The Phillips Collection, Watermarking using Digimarc
D I G I T I Z A T I O N P R O C E S S
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W A T E R M A R K I N G W I T H D I G I M A R C
THE PHILLIPS COLLECTION
We began the process of digitizing our collection of approximately 3000
objects in 2002.
We selected our scanning vendor, Luna Imaging, CA, after asking 5 vendors
to create sample high-resolution scans from our transparencies. We coded
these submissions to make a vendor-blind decision, and selected Luna
Imaging based upon the quality of their scans.
We began photographing objects to create 2x4 transparencies which are
sent to Luna to create a cropped and uncropped tiff and derivative Jpeg
We began to investigate watermarking options (there were few). We found
only Digimarc to be solvent over a period of time (companies would be on
the radar for awhile then go out of business).
We’re an educational institution
The majority of works in the Phillips Collection are still
under copyright. As digitization of the collection was
getting underway, staff explored various methods for
protecting the copyrights of its rights owners, while also
strongly affirming fair use.*
*Unless otherwise noted, users who wish to download or print text, audio,
video, image and other files from The Phillips Collection’s Web site for such
uses are welcome to do so without The Phillips Collection’s express
Why did we choose to watermark?
We have a Visual Resources dept. that manages formal
requests for image use. (Formally requested images are
distributed without watermark.)
Staff were very conscious that The Phillips Collection is an
educational institutional and not in the business of rights
enforcement. Although we could assemble the necessary
paperwork to back up any charge of rights infringement, we
needed some mechanism for assuring other rights owners
(especially rights organizations still nervous about posting
works online) that works would be actively protected
We wondered, in this day and age when anyone can
borrow and alter images, what if an image from our
collection was used in a compromising way that
could potentially embarrass the institution and
image rights owners?
We wanted extra assurance that we could easily
demonstrate that we were not culpable for any rights
violations, that we did not alter the image, and that it
was utilized without gaining appropriate permission.
Our curators were very concerned when we
mentioned watermarking images that we would be
altering the images we place on the web. They
thought we meant using a visible watermark.
Embeds an electronic signature
The watermark is embedded into content in a way that is
imperceptible to the human eye.
Once woven into a digital picture, illustration or artwork,
the digital watermark provides a pervasive, persistent,
machine-readable documentation of ownership.
Unique digital identity remains with the image as it is
distributed, copied, manipulated or converted to other
formats. This identity allows its usage to be tracked on
How does it work?
Is the watermark expensive to add? In the general scheme
of things, no. We have an enterprise license for a relatively
small collection. We pay our license fees annually.
Is it difficult to add? No. On the contrary. While it does
add another layer to our process--we add the watermark to
our jpegs for web use--it is very easy to apply using the
Adobe creative suite software.
How do you embed the watermark?
Digimarc digital watermarking was added to
Adobe® Photoshop® in 1996 as the only third-
party software plug-in bundled with Adobe image-
editing products. You open the image in Adobe
Photoshop, select Digimarc under filters and that’s
Digimarc also provides a script on its web site for
automating the watermarking of large numbers of
images in sequence. This utility has proved a great
time-saver for us.
Follows your images anywhere
Provides an easy, reliable way to protect valuable
photos and image assets
Reports demonstrate image usage
We started to use Digimarc to watermark the jpegs
we post to the web in 2004.
We have access to a reporting system hosted by
Digimarc that provides data on specific images used
at identified URLs.
Have we ever needed to utilize the watermarking
process to prove ownership of an image?
No, not yet.
Are we wasting time and money using watermarks?
That’s arguable. However we believe that we have
simplified the process which would be required to
identify the origination source of an image should it
Darci Vanderhoff, CIO
The Phillips Collection
1600 21st St., NW
Washington, DC 20009
202-387-2151 ext. 237