How long have you argued the pros and cons of putting a watermark on your photographs? The arguments are strong for both sides, or at least they were. Until recently, that is. WatermarkRemover.io is a powerful AI-run software that allegedly can remove almost any watermark from an image in seconds.
The watermark removal tool is run by Pixelbin.io and is entirely free to use. This could set some consumer photographers on edge who rely on watermarks to deter image theft when sending galleries to clients to proof. In a similar vein, this will also impact stock photography sites, again making it extremely easy to steal copyrighted photos.
As The Verge notes, this isn’t a new phenomenon. Several other watermark remover tools already exist. However, this one is far more accessible, easier to use, and entirely free. In order to remove a watermark before, you had to be quite determined in order to invest the effort in erasing it.
With this AI software, that appears not to be the case. In one single click, the software effectively removes almost all traces of watermarks on the image. It’s available on Android and on the web.
Tests showed that it was effective at removing most stock image site’s watermarks. All except for Getty’s, where considerable artifacts were left. Interestingly enough, these stock photo sites have been among the first to embrace and include AI-generated images to be included in their content.
While WatermarkRemover.io skirts around the issues of copyright infringement in their Frequently Asked Questions, they clearly don’t really give a ‘FAQ’ about the legalities. Instead, they place the responsibility firmly at the user’s feet, stating that “users of this app are solely responsible for any claims, damages, cost, expenses, suit etc brought by any third party pertaining to the usage of the resulting images…”
Of course, removing the watermarks does not in any way remove the copyright of an image, and in doing so, you could be setting yourself up for some copyright infringement lawsuits. DIYP isn’t condoning this new assault of AI on the creative industries. In fact, the only use that I can see for such a tool, is to steal images. You don’t watermark an image if it’s in the public domain or has a creative commons license.
Frankly, I can see no advantage for photographers, and this is yet another example of how unscrupulous “tech bros” are making a quick buck with little to no thought as to how their technology will impact the rest of the world.
Of course, just as with anything, it’s not the AI per se that is at fault. We have covered several interesting instances of it being used for creative and beneficial uses. It all depends on what it is being used for. But make no mistake. AI is already disrupting the creative landscape, and it will only continue. There is no stopping it, we can merely adapt to the challenges that it continues to throw at us.
Maybe at least it’s now time to lay that old argument to rest about whether to watermark your images or not. Clearly, it’s no protection at all anymore against image theft.
[Via The Verge]