How to Watermark Your Creative Works such as PDFs and Images

How to Watermark Your Creative Works such as PDFs and Images

Does news of document theft shock you or is it just the norm? For most, after Edward Snowden, nothing is surprising anymore. Nevertheless, that was a clear-cut case, as the culprit was already known due to the controls employed by the US government. Also, he was not exactly hiding his identity. For other institutions like yours, the theft of documents and content is more dangerous as the person who stole the documents are not always known. So, you might still be employing the person who stole your documents and shared them.

This is why watermarks are essential. First, they help pinpoint your original works whenever you come across them in a torrent site. You can even prove ownership through the use of the watermarks. They also help identify sources of document leaks for prosecution.

Currently, there are two main types of watermarks: invisible ones and visible ones.

The Invisible Watermark

This type is more commonly used in images as it does not distract or ruin the content. Yet, the watermark is effective in curtailing creative art people from all over the world claiming pictures as their own to earn royalties. This is because the invisible component can be processed to reveal ownership and authenticity. In the case of documents, screen grabbers make this more difficult. The moment someone takes a photo or screenshot of the document, its format changes, and the watermark is eliminated as a result.

On the whole, it is not advisable to use this type of watermark as a security measure for your documents. It is also harder to pull off as the graphics in a text file are unlikely to be enough to hide the watermark.

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The only option thus available to you is the visible watermark.

The Visible Watermark

Two types of visible watermarks suffice. The first is the static watermark. For this type, you create a watermark before distributing the document and it remains the same regardless of who opens the document.

In the case of images, visible watermarks may affect the appearance of the image. As such, if you are going to share pictures with static watermarks, you have to give the option of removing it so that people can experience your work fully. The same is not true for text documents. People will still be able to see the information and, hence, it can be left as it is. Unfortunately, people will still share such documents since static watermarks only offer the ability to display information on who owns the file.

Luckily, there is the second type of visible watermark: the dynamic watermark. This means having a specific type of software process the file to insert variable data when a document is viewed and/or printed.

For example, with a document DRM solution, you get a proprietary viewer for your documents. Everybody who receives and uses your documents will have to download and use the same version of the text-processing software that you are using. This means that the app will have information on each user and that information is what shows in the dynamic watermark.

Also, you can usually customize how the dynamic watermark appears. However, there are some guidelines on how to go about it. One is that you need to choose the information about the user that is to be displayed. You can display their email address, their IP address or any other identifying information, including their name. You can also control the font and opacity to influence visibility. So, you can make it as visible as possible.

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The benefits of this are numerous. For one, it is unlikely that someone will take photographs of your document and then share it for free. This is because their information will be plastered all over the content and, if push comes to shove, they can be arraigned in court for breaching the terms of use. Thus, dynamic watermarks serve as quite an effective deterrent. These document DRM apps also do not offer options for editing the content for the end users who want to remove the watermark.

The same apps will allow printing with the watermarks on display just like they appear on the screen. So, even if someone were to scan back the document into an unsecured PDF format, their details will still be on the pages and it will take a lot of time and effort to remove them. Ultimately, the whole issue of dealing with the watermark to share the file anonymously becomes problematic.

Final thoughts

With a watermark present, your documents and images will be much more secure from content thieves. It should be a priority whenever you ask yourself how you are going to ensure the security of your content. Look into the apps that let you do that and choose one that works for you.

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