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Digital watermarking is a technique which allows an individual to add hidden copyright notices or other verification messages to digital audio, video, or image signals and documents. Such a message is a group of bits describing information pertaining to the signal or to the author of the signal (name, place, etc.). The technique takes its name from watermarking of paper or money as a security measure. Digital watermarking can be a form of steganography, in which data is hidden in the message without the end user's knowledge.
Visible watermarks change the signal altogether such that the watermarked signal is totally different from the actual signal, e.g., adding an image as a watermark to another image. Stock photography agencies often add a watermark in the shape of a copyright symbol ("©") to previews of their images, so that the previews do not substitute for high-quality copies of the product included with a license.
Steganography is the art and science of writing hidden messages in such a way that no one apart from the sender and intended recipient even realizes there is a hidden message. By contrast, cryptography obscures the meaning of a message, but it does not conceal the fact that there is a message. Today, the term steganography includes the concealment of digital information within computer files.