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Adobe’s High-Tech Counterfeit Deterrence

Posted on November 15th, 2011 in Technology

Recently, when I was preparing my blog post Social Media is Gateway to Newly Affluent, I made an interesting discovery. For some reason, I wasn’t really thinking about simply linking to the graphic image from the source article, but instead took a selection screen capture (command-shift-4) of the magnified report cover from the online reader. Upon opening the screen capture in Photoshop to scale it, I was greeted by the following popup message:

Adobe Photoshop Warning MessageOnce I recovered from my surprise, I clicked on the “Information” link which took me to a website run by the Central Bank Counterfeit Deterrence Group. The website explains that the group has developed a Counterfeit Deterrence System which has been voluntarily adopted by software and hardware manufacturers to prevent digital imaging tools and personal computers from capturing or reproducing the image of certain banknotes. Sure enough, the file I was attempting to scale in Photoshop did contain a partial image of a US $100 bill.

Adobe claims that the image had some sort of digital watermark embedded in it, but I am skeptical. After all, it was only a screen capture of the image, the art did not even contain a complete image of the $100 bill, and there was visible text which read “SPECIMEN” running throughout the image. So how did Photoshop really know?

The most likely explanation is a very interesting deterrence devise in use throughout the world … something called the EURion constellation, a term coined by a German computer scientist who discovered the pattern in early 2002 when he observed a color photocopier that refused to reproduce banknotes. The EURion constellation is a distinctive pattern of five small yellow, green or orange circles repeated across areas of the banknote at different orientations which are recognizable to computer software applications. On the reverse of the US twenty-dollar bill, for example, the pattern is established by the zeros in numerous small yellow images of the number “20.”

Although these types of high-tech counterfeit deterrence are generally unpublicized (for obvious reasons), it does not come as a surprise that those who create and circulate authentic currency would use all of the essentially unlimited means at their disposal to prevent the forgeries which devalue it. It is all very fascinating!

Published by Lexicon Media LLC

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