Feb 25, 2008

Researchers Look to Spot Photo Hoaxes

Source: WIRED
Written by Anick Jesdanun

NEW YORK (AP) — Sometimes, a photo is simply too good to be true. Tiny details in an image, for instance, may be too similar to have occurred naturally, suggesting a cut-and-paste maneuver. Or the color patterns may be too “normal” – beyond the limitations of sensors on digital cameras.

A growing number of researchers and companies are looking for such signs of tampering in hopes of restoring credibility to photographs at a time when the name of a popular program for manipulating digital images has become a verb, Photoshopping.

Adobe Systems Inc., the developer of Photoshop, said it may incorporate their techniques into future releases.

“There’s much more awareness and much more skepticism when (people) are looking at images,” said Kevin Connor, a senior director of product management at Adobe. “That’s why we think that’s something we need to get involved in. It’s not healthy to have people be too skeptical about what they saw.”

Meanwhile, camera maker Canon Inc. sells a data-verification kit with some models. It can stamp digital photos with an invisible, mathematical summary of the image, such that even one tiny change will produce a mismatch and flag the photo as an alteration.

These techniques are of interest to law-enforcement officials and defense attorneys because photographic evidence can make or break cases. News organizations also have been increasingly exploring ways to spot hoaxes.

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