More than 700 years ago, watermarks were used in Italy to indicate the paper brand and the mill that produced it. By the 18th century watermarks began to be used as anti counterfeiting measures on money and other documents.The term watermark was introduced near the end of the 18th century. It was probably given because the marks resemble the effects of water on paper. The first example of a technology similar to digital watermarking is a patent filed in 1954 by Emil Hembrooke for identifying music works. In 1988, Komatsu and Tominaga appear to be the first to use the term “digital watermarking”. Consider the following hypothetical situations. You go to a shop, buy some goods and at the counter you are given a currency note you have never come across before. How do you verify that it is not counterfeit? Or say you go to a stationery shop and ask for a ream of bond paper. How do you verify that you have actually been given what you asked for? How does a philatelist verify the authenticity of a stamp? In all these cases, the watermark is used to authenticate. Watermarks have been in existence almost from the time paper has been in use. The impression created by the mesh moulds on the slurry of fibre and water remains on the paper. It serves to identify the manufacturer and thus authenticate the product without actually degrading the aesthetics and utility of the stock. It also makes forgery significantly tougher. Even today, important government and legal documents are watermarked. But what is watermarking, when it comes to digital data? Information is no longer present on a physical material but is represented as a series of zeros and ones. Duplication of information is achieved easily by just reproducing that combination of zeros and ones. How then can one protect ownership rights and authenticate data? The digital watermark is the same as that of conventional watermarks.

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