Digimarc® Guardian for Images FAQ

This information was updated August 11, 2014.

Most technical questions about Digimarc® Guardian for Images can be answered in our tutorials or in our comprehensive Best Practices Guide. Otherwise, read on for general questions and answers. If you still haven't found the information you're looking for, please contact us.


Account Management and Web Lookup

The Digimarc plug-in for Adobe Photoshop and Photoshop Elements


Image Tracking with Digimarc Search Service

Product and Technical Information


What is Digimarc Guardian for Images, and how can it help me?

Digimarc Guardian for Images enables digital photographers and web designers to communicate image copyrights and receive credit for their work through the power of a Guardian ID.

  • You'll be instantly recognized for your work when your images are viewed through Adobe Photoshop or Adobe Photoshop Elements.
  • You'll receive credit through linking, which enables Digimarc-enabled images to display key information such as your name, address, phone number, e-mail, or website address.

How do I buy Digimarc Guardian for Images, and how much does it cost?

Digimarc Guardian for Images is offered as an annual subscription. You can sign up for different subscription levels depending on your specific needs. To read detailed information about different product levels, click here.

Do you offer a discount to non-profit organizations?

No, Digimarc Guardian for Images is not offered at a discounted rate for non-profit organizations. However, we feel that our product pricing tier offers a solution for any budget.

Where does Digimarc Guardian for Images fit into the creative workflow process?

Applying Guardian IDs should be one of the last steps applied to an image, just before compression. Digimarc recommends the following workflow for adding a Guardian ID to images:

  1. Make all necessary modifications to an image until it has the desired final appearance
  2. Embed the Guardian ID
  3. Save the new image
  4. Close and re-open the image prior to verifying the Guardian ID strength
  5. Publish the image

Can I track my images to see if they are being used without my permission?

Yes. Digimarc Search Service is a tracking and monitoring service that searches the Internet for Guardian IDs and produces reports that list where your images are found. This service is available for the Professional and Enterprise Editions of Digimarc Guardian for Images.

Can I upgrade my account after I sign up?

Yes. Sign in to your account and choose Renew/Upgrade from the Your Account tab. You will be able to self-renew online.

How much will it cost to upgrade my account?

If upgrading within the first eleven months of your active subscription, the cost is the upgraded service level price minus the pro-rated amount of the remaining months under your original subscription. Otherwise, the cost of an upgrade is the same as a full subscription at the new level.

  • Example
    • You upgrade to Professional level ($99) with six months remaining on your Basic account ($49)
    • Your upgrade price would be $74.50
    • Original subscription price of $49, divided by 12 months (produces your monthly rate), multiplied by 6 months (of services rendered)  = $24.50
    • Subtract the prorated $24.50 from the $99 cost of a year of professional to get the final price of $74.50

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Account Management and Web Lookup

How do I view reports?

Reports are available if you subscribe to the Professional or Enterprise Editions. To view your reports, sign in to your account.

What is Web Lookup?

Web Lookup gives you the ability to assign key contact information to your unique Guardian ID. By assigning this information, you can communicate selected information to anyone who views your images through a Digimarc-enabled application. Sign in to specify what information is associated with your Guardian ID. For a video tutorial on this topic, click here.

How does a Guardian ID communicate my information?

Your Digimarc-enabled images can be used to communicate your copyright and contact information, as well as automatically link a person to your specified website.

The best option for reading a Guardian ID is via Adobe Photoshop. A user who selects "Read Watermark" from the Digimarc plug-in menu (Filter > Digimarc > Read Watermark...), is presented with the image's copyright information. Also, if the "Web Lookup" button is pressed, a web browser will open to your website. If there is no entry for a URL (see below), the user will instead be redirected to a Digimarc page that displays your selected contact information.

Why can't I embed Guardian IDs with your plug-in?

Our free plug-in allows anyone to read Guardian IDs via a compatible version of Adobe Photoshop or Photoshop Elements. However, a subscription to Digimarc Guardian for Images is required to embed a custom Guardian ID.

I have lost my PIN/ID/Password. How do I retrieve this information?

If you lost your Digimarc login password or PIN, please click here to use the automated password and PIN retrieval service. If you do not remember your login or are unable to sign in after reviewing your credentials email, please contact a support representative.

I signed up for Digimarc Guardian for Images, but can another person Digimarc-enable images for me?

Those you share your Login ID and PIN with can Digimarc-enable images from any computer.

What is the refund policy?

Subscription purchases can be refunded within 14 days from date of order upon written notification to Digimarc.

  • We offer a 100% refund through 14 days after initial purchase
  • Immediately upon refund request, customer agrees to permanently cease all use of his or her Guardian ID
  • Refunds on purchases made with a credit card will be posted to the original credit card used at the time of sale only

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The Digimarc plug-in for Adobe Photoshop and Photoshop Elements

What versions of Photoshop is the latest plug-in compatible with?

The new plug-in is compatible with recent versions of Adobe's image-editing software. Due to the many configurations of operating systems and software packages, we encourage you to check if you have the most current plug-in available.

What languages are supported?

22 languages are supported with the latest Digimarc Guardian for Images plug-in:

  • Brazilian Portuguese
  • Chinese - Simplified
  • Chinese - Traditional
  • Czech
  • Danish
  • Dutch
  • English
  • Finnish
  • French
  • German
  • Hungarian
  • Italian
  • Japanese
  • Korean
  • Norwegian
  • Spanish
  • Swedish
  • Polish
  • Romanian
  • Russian
  • Turkish
  • Ukrainian

To use Digimarc Guardian for Images, do I need to upgrade to Adobe Photoshop CS4 or Photoshop Elements 6 through 9?

No. You can still use older versions of Photoshop and our prior plug-in releases. With each new release of Photoshop, it is important to us that our service continues to provide value to customers using the latest version, as well as to customers using prior versions.

What is the difference between Chroma and Classic available with the new plug-in?

"Chroma" is the new embedding technology standard. It significantly improves upon our prior technology ("Classic") in most applications. This is the default embedding process with the latest plug-in; however, you can toggle between Chroma and Classic. To learn more about this new technology, please watch this informative video.

How do I switch back and forth between Chroma and Classic mode?

When using the Digimarc Guardian for Images plug-in from within the Photoshop filters menu, press CTRL-Alt-E on the PC, or COMMAND-Option-E on the Mac. You will see the banner and text at the top of the dialog box change accordingly.

In what circumstance would I use Classic mode instead of Chroma?

There are some instances where a user may want to use the Classic setting rather than the new Chroma  setting, namely when working with small images. Classic embedding is recommended for images with dimensions less than 256 x 256 pixels.

How do I re-enter my PIN/ID when updating from older to newer Digimarc plug-ins?

Older versions of the Digimarc plug-ins ("PictureMarc," "ImageBridge," "MyPictureMarc," etc...) cached your Guardian ID within the Photoshop plug-ins directory. Newer versions of Windows and Macintosh OSX require Digimarc to move the cached location of the Guardian ID to the registry or preferences. Meaning, when you install the new plug-in, you will have to re-enter your Guardian ID and PIN the first time you run the "Embed Watermark" filter. This will write your Guardian ID and PIN to the registry or preferences and you will not need to enter it again.

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What is the embedding plug-in?

The embedding plug-in is packaged with Adobe Photoshop and Photoshop Elements software applications. This is the same plug-in that allows people to read Guardian IDs within Photoshop. Once you have subscribed to Digimarc Guardian for Images and keyed in your Guardian ID and pin, you can use the embedding function of the plug-in. For information on the process of embedding, please visit our tutorials.

How do I embed a visual watermark?

Your subscription to Digimarc Guardian for Images, and the value we deliver, is for embedding imperceptible Guardian IDs into your images. Our partner, Adobe, already has the capability to embed visual watermarks in Photoshop via transparent layers. Based on research and talking with customers, we believe Adobe Photoshop and Photoshop Elements provide a very good, flexible option to apply visual watermarks. Please see your user manual for further support and information on this task.

Can I embed a Guardian ID into an image using 16- or 32-bit color channels?

To enable a Guardian ID, the image being embedded has to be in 8-bit mode, i.e. having 8 bits per channel, color or grayscale. Though Adobe Photoshop can edit images with 8, 16 and 32 bits per channel the plug-in supports only the 8-bit per channel mode. Images with 16 and 32 bits per channel offer a larger color depth for high-end color reproduction, while the final web and print image formats only recognize 8-bit mode images. Once an image is ready or has been saved as one of these final formats, you are ready to apply the Guardian ID.

In Windows Vista, why am I repeatedly required to re-enter my User PIN/ID or asked if I would like to check for a new update?

Your system's UAC (User Account Control) may block the Digimarc user data from being written. If you would like to change Photoshop to always run as an elevated program, please right-click Photoshop.exe under "Program Files," click Properties and then select the Compatibility tab. Under Privilege Level, select "Run this program as an administrator" and then click OK. This will allow the plug-in's preference file to be written into the Photoshop directory. This preference file holds your PIN/ID and the last date it checked for an update.

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Image Tracking with Digimarc Search Service

What is the Digimarc Search Service?

Digimarc Search Service constantly crawls the web locating tens of thousands of Digimarc-enabled photos and images each month. The crawler looks for protected images and creates a report that shows you where your images are being used on other people's websites. Reporting is available for the Professional and Enterprise Editions.

Digimarc Search Service is optimized for sites that the image user owns and operates, where the highest quality images reside and the potential for fraud or commercial benefit is greatest. Please note that password-protected sites, web pages behind firewalls, Flash-based galleries or database-driven websites are not open for any spider to crawl, including Digimarc's. This includes popular photo-sharing portals such as Picasa, Flickr, SmugMug, etc. along with social networking sites such as Facebook.

How long will it take to find my protected images online?

There are many factors that determine the successful discovery of an image - including how deeply an image is buried within a particular website and the number of sites where the image is posted. The more images you Guardian ID that make their way onto the web, the more likely Digimarc Search Service will find them. If you have only three images online, they won't be as easy to find. Likewise, if you upload your images to a website and nobody reposts them, your chances of being immediately found are minimal. Depending on these factors, it could take one to six months to isolate a website and determine where a particular image is used therein.

As a general rule of thumb, websites with higher traffic get indexed first. Enterprise customers can employ the Directed Search option, where specific sites are directly targeted. This is especially useful if your images regularly appear on pages that receive less traffic or you want to monitor potentially offending websites. All URLs in your Directed Search list are crawled every month.

What are the tracking reports?

Digimarc Search Service tracking reports provide a listing of all instances of a Digimarc-enabled image found as the crawler searches the Internet.

How can I view my reports?

To view your reports, you must sign in to your qualifying account, then click the Reporting tab.

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Product and Technical Information

What is a Guardian ID?

A Guardian ID is a unique identification code assigned to current subscribers. It is used to digitally identify images through the watermark embedded in the image.

What is a digital watermark?

A digital watermark (aka a Guardian ID) is data embedded into a digital image. Digimarc Guardian for Images embeds a unique Guardian ID by adding information that is machine-readable by a Guardian ID reader. Guardian IDs are generally imperceptible to the human eye. To learn more, please click here.

Does a Guardian ID work with all digital images?

Guardian IDs work best on pixel-based images that meet the recommended size requirements of a minimum 256 x 256 pixels. Guardian IDs are much less perceptible in natural images, such as photographs, than they are in graphic images, such as logos.

Should I embed a Guardian ID into the original art or a copy?

Digimarc recommends that a Guardian ID be embedded into a COPY of an image only, and not the original.

What is an image-editing application?

An image-editing application is the software that lets the user to manipulate and change digital images, such as Adobe Photoshop or Photoshop Elements.

How do you read a Guardian ID?

The best option for reading a Guardian ID is via Adobe Photoshop (Filter > Digimarc > Read Watermark...).

Can a Guardian ID be removed?

Digimarc does not provide tools or software to remove its Guardian IDs. Removing a Guardian ID without discernibly altering the image quality is a difficult process. We always suggest that the image creator or owner retain an original copy of the image that does not include a Guardian ID.

Does a Guardian ID prevent printing of an image?

A Guardian ID does not prevent printing of an image.

Will a Guardian ID be invisible onscreen but be visible when the image is printed?

No, Guardian IDs created by Digimarc Guardian for Images do not function as visual watermark when printed.

Will Digimarc Guardian for Images prevent downloading of images?

A Guardian ID does not prevent the downloading of an image. Digimarc Guardian for Images will help locate the unauthorized use of the downloaded image, should it be posted back online.

How does a Guardian ID work with graphic image file formats like GIF? Logos?

A Guardian ID is independent of file format. For more information about the types of images that are most compatible with Guardian IDs, please read our Best Practices Guide. Also, we have a video tutorial available on this subject.

Can a Guardian ID be seen?

At high magnification, a Guardian ID appears as a slight change in the image's grain or texture.

What is a Transaction ID?

A Transaction ID is a customer-selected number that can be included within the data of a Guardian ID at the time of embedding. This ID can link back to MetaCore data within a company's asset management system. The transaction ID can be dynamically created and can be unique to a specific image.

How much data does a Guardian ID hold?

Guardian IDs carry several pieces of relevant data, including Creator ID and Transaction/Image ID or copyright year, as well as optional flags for Restricted Use, Do Not Copy and Adult Content.

What is the "Restricted Use" flag?

The "Restricted Use" flag is information stored in the Guardian ID. It does not actually restrict use — it only communicates that use is not public domain. It is used as a warning to those who read a Guardian ID of an image that this image is owned and should not be copied or used without permission.

What is the "Adult Content" flag?

The "Adult Content" flag is information stored in the Guardian ID that is a service Digimarc provides to adult content distributors to use as a self-policing function.

What is the "Do Not Copy" flag?

The "Do Not Copy" flag is information stored in the Guardian ID, which does not restrict use — it communicates that use is not public domain and should not be copied. It is used as a warning to those who read a Guardian ID that this image is owned and should not be used without permission.

What does the "©" in the title bar of an image mean?

If a Guardian ID is present in an image, the application that opened the image displays a copyright symbol (©) in the title bar of the document window, providing an instant visual cue that it is a Digimarc-enabled image.

How fast is a Guardian ID detected within Adobe Photoshop?

Automatic detection within Adobe Photoshop generally takes between 0.5 and 1.0 seconds regardless of image size.

It appears I can embed a Guardian ID in Photoshop for free. Is this true?

Yes. The software in Photoshop is fully functional, but is loaded with a demonstration ID number that is not unique — the same number is shipped in all copies of Photoshop. You can use the demonstration ID to evaluate using a Guardian ID in an image, but it does not provide any level of service. When you purchase a subscription, you are assigned a Guardian ID which is unique to you and can be used for copyright communication of your Digimarc-enabled images.

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