Hello 2012 and a Happy New Year!

A big shout out to 2012! I wonder what lies in store for us all. I really hope that the hostilities around the world calm down (I don’t want to sound like a contestant in a beauty pageant and say I hope for world peace but really that IS the gist of it…).

I have a few New Year’s Resolutions note the initial caps to signify their great importance… let’s see how many are being observed come a week on Tuesday, ha ha.

A priority for me to to re-organise this blog. It started life as a free everything and so the structure, navigation and organisation wasn’t that important to me. Now I sell stuff it is essential to make things easily accessible. It’s a headache but a must-do. I am also looking into copyright protection – something we’re all aware of but what a mine field!

 

Copyright protection hash algorithms / fingerprinting your files

I notice that some sellers use a service to ‘protect’ their copyright with a unique ‘fingerprinting’ technique based on hash algorithms so I looked into it.

Firstly, the service providers I looked into do not accept any responsibility for checking to see if something CAN be copyright protected. That is down to the user.

Secondly, should the user determine that there is a breach of copyright, it is down to the user to seek legal advice and pursue the matter through legal channels. Not them again.

 

So, what does the copyright protection service offer?

Well, in my view – and I hope I’m wrong – nothing much. They provide a hashing algorithm that generates a unique reference number (a reassuringly long one) for a file and that number is commonly known as its ‘fingerprint’. That much they do, but what good does that do  in terms of protecting a file? To be of any use, that fingerprint would need to still identify a file as yours should it get modified.

 

When is a file changed such that it needs to be re-registered?

I noted that in the FAQ of one I looked at there was the instruction that a file would NEED to be re-registered if a file is changed.  So, what constitutes a ‘change’?  You may think it means something ‘big’ like changing the shape of a window or door or the design of a flower cut-out. But does it?  It could mean that simply moving a file a mm or so from its original location or removing your name etc, constitutes sufficient change to require re-registration.

The reason I bring this up is that I have worked with hashing algorithms and EEPROMS. An EEPROM is a hardware device that stores a programme, for example, your washing machine has all the information for its washing cycles stored in one.

EEPROMS, like all digital information devices, work with bits and bytes. A  fingerprint or checksum (same thing), is always generated for an EEPROM using hash algorithms.

One bit is the smallest piece of digital information you can get. If one bit of the data stored on the EEPROM is changed – ONE BIT – the fingerprint is different. Not slightly different – not to a computer anyway – it is DIFFERENT! No nuances, subtleties or ambiguity. Different.

If this is true of a cutting file, then anybody can take a file, mod it ever-so-slightly, like remove your copyright – unless it is designed to ignore text,  or scale it up or down, say, 2%, or move it on the ‘page’ a couple of mm and its fingerprint will have been irrevocably changed beyond recognition or identification in terms of its fingerprint!

Now, I know there are perceptual hashes that are used to fingerprint images. I think this might be how Tineye works… not sure. However, I doubt it would work with cutting file formats.

I raise this should you be thinking of using such a service so you can do your own research and make an informed decision. If you already use this service, try modding – in a minor way like selecting all and moving the whole template a couple of mm, saving it as something else – then try checking it through the verification process and see if it is identified as your file. If it isn’t, then you’re chucking money away for nothing.

Anybody out there care to share their knowledge and help the crafting community (and others) out?

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