Pirates Snacking on Your Booty? Get Brand Control

Adobe Stock / Artem Mazunov.

Your phone chimes, and there’s an ad for your newest product. Awesome! Your old-school distribution partner is finally delivering up-to-date images. Oh wait, the ad is from a questionable domain. It’s not your partner — your media has been hijacked to sell counterfeits.

How is it that pirates have all your newest media, while your partners persist in showing outdated and poor quality product images?

Tools for controlling your brand’s destiny

Your first line of defense for your brand is a visible watermark on your media, typically a semi-transparent image or text. Watermarks protect your brand by making ownership of an asset explicit and visible, embarrassing those who would co-opt your media for their own nefarious gains.

Using Dynamic Media, you can easily add a watermark to media by creating an Advanced Image Preset. This describes the transparency, placement, and content of the watermark. You only need one preset to add the watermark to all assets; you stack it with your other media presets.

Watermarks protect your valuable corporate assets, but you have to be smart about how you use them. If their appearance and placement are defined within your URL parameters, it’s a simple matter for pirates to alter the URL to remove the watermark. And now your unmarked image is ready for download and unauthorized use.

You can counteract this by cloaking your watermark parameter by using a rule set. Rule sets are a great tool for reformatting URLs, keeping information private, and protecting assets. A key feature of rule sets is the ability to be metadata-driven. In other words, rules can apply to a subset of images, pages, or other objects — not applied globally. For example, you might want to tightly protect your product media with a prominent watermark, but be looser or more subtle about watermarking editorial imagery. This rules-driven capability gives your workflow scale, flexibility, and precision.

Assert and protect ownership with indelible watermarks

Visible watermarks discourage misuse. Indelible watermarks make it impossible to hide misuse. Counterfeiters use authentic product images to sell knockoffs and diverted products on authentic looking websites. Brand owners, photographers, and image owners need a reliable and consistent identifier to digital image assets. Indelible watermarks proclaim the rights to media, and can’t be removed.

Indelible watermarks powered by Dynamic Media and partner Digimarc offer a proprietary method of adding a pixel-level watermark pattern imperceptible to humans, but detectable to Digimarc’s web crawler. Digimarc Barcode for Digital Images protection remains effective even through file compression, format changes, editing, cropping, and other manipulations. Digimarc enterprise customers can easily activate Digimarc Barcode for Digital Images through the Dynamic Media platform.

Surveil, detect, defend

Let’s face it: the bad guys, just like pirates seeking treasure, never stop thinking of how to capture your assets. Their survival depends on circumventing your protections, and now and then they succeed. This is why surveillance — monitoring — is so important.

Surveillance is not just for finding bad guys. Content acquisition and use are so complex that even your most trusted and well-meaning partners (and let’s face it, this includes your own marketing) may slip up. Monitoring helps you discover the use of outdated media, and makes it easier to focus your review of compliance on the highest value or highest traffic properties.

The Digimarc tracking system monitors the internet with both broad and targeted crawls. The monthly crawl reviews more than 10 million newly registered sites, the quarterly crawl does a deep scan of sites found using your assets, and the directed crawl collects data on sites you specify as concerning. For example, you may want to closely monitor approved partners to see that they are using up-to-date content — and known counterfeiters, to see that they aren’t using any content. These crawls, developed with Digimarc’s partner PhishLabs, locate your digitally watermarked images.

The Digimarc dashboard delivers insights into where your media assets are being used. Brand owners can take action to protect their brand, and legal departments have the data they need to effectively communicate and enforce media copyrights and licensing. Digimarc also provides enterprise customers with a lightweight Chrome browser extension to empower in-house teams to do real-time, on-the-fly Barcode reading on any website.

Repulse the pirates, deny the booty

The complement to surveillance is denial; blocking swashbucklers from raiding your treasure. Watermarks are your first defense — they make your media traceable. For stronger brand control and stewarding, combine watermarking with control of where your media is delivered. This is the purpose of hotlink protection.

Hotlinking is when a third-party website uses your published URLs to display an image from your Dynamic Media assets. They use your bandwidth every time media is requested because the visitor’s browser is accessing it directly from your servers.

Hotlink protection is a method to prevent this, shielding your brand and reducing overall usage of your Dynamic Media account. The implementation is very simple: configure a referrer filter at the content delivery network (CDN) level so that Dynamic Media content is only served to websites on your list of permitted domains — such as approved partners.

Hotlink protection requires that you use Adobe’s bundled CDN. To activate, create a support ticket to request the configuration change to your account. Hotlink protection is offered free of charge.

Don’t miss the July 23 webinar

Find out more about this important topic in the July 23rd webinar, Protection, Profits and Pixels: How Adobe and Digimarc Are Advancing the Fight Against Digital Piracy. Register today.

Learn more

1. Visit Digimarc to learn more about Digimarc Barcode.

2. Learn more about advanced image presets, rule sets, hotlink protection, and other hidden gems:

3. Follow our Dynamic Media Classic and Dynamic Media blog for tips and guidance.

4. Sign up for our Dynamic Media Newsletter.