The speed with which digital content travels across the internet provides new opportunities for both content creators and consumers if the content can quickly and easily be identified and managed. The metadata that is initially attached to content when it is created can too often be lost as the files are copied, manipulated and transformed from one format to another. In the absence of reliable identification, content can be easily copied, altered, re-purposed and even shared or sold without the permission or knowledge of its owners.

Without effective content identification…

  • Owners cannot maintain control over how their content is used
  • Consumers are frustrated by limitations imposed on how they use content they have legitimately purchased
  • Consumers miss out on richer, more relevant, and more customized experiences
  • Opportunities are missed to deliver additional value and enjoyment to consumers
  • Compensation is too often based on assumptions and sample-based estimates
  • Marketers are unable to monitor the effectiveness of campaigns
  • Parents lack the means to protect their children from accessing inappropriate content


Digital watermarking enables effective content identification by providing a unique digital identity to all forms of media content in a way that persists with the content wherever it may travel. Digital watermarks are easily embedded into content without interfering with the consumer’s enjoyment of it. It is imperceptible to humans, but easily detected and understood by computers, networks and a wide range of common digital devices. The watermark can carry such information as who owns it, how it may be used or anything else the owner wants to convey. It can also trigger predefined actions, including linking to websites or other rich consumer experiences.


For digital content to reach its full potential and enrich the lives of consumers, the ecosystem in which it is produced and delivered must meet two primary criteria:

  1. Convenient access for consumers and
  2. Respect for the rights of copyright holders

Effective content identification helps consumers…

  • Find the content they’re looking for, learn more about it, try it out, and locate where and how to purchase it
  • Organize and integrate content with other items in their personal media lists, playlists and libraries
  • Enjoy content on multiple devices, including upgrades or new devices they may own in the future
  • Access content in contexts that suit their preferences and lifestyle
  • Interact with content and incorporate it into personal media productions
  • Recommend and share content they like to friends and family
  • Control what kinds of content their children access on all the devices they use

Effective content identification helps copyright owners, brands and distributors…

  • Locate and learn about how, when and where content is being consumed
  • Authenticate content
  • Deter unauthorized use
  • Audit, report on, and analyze the uses and distribution paths of content with full accuracy and transparency
  • Enrich and enhance content by pairing it with related material, ads, promotions, discounts, interactive games and other creative means of engaging consumers
  • Link consumers to and from content that is relevant to their interests
  • Enable users to easily identify the source of content by communicating copyright information and usage rights
  • Organize and manage content in a digital asset management or other content management system
  • Identify the source of leaks when confidential content inadvertently or intentionally makes its way onto the Internet

Individuals and organizations at every point along the distribution chain-from creators, producers, packagers, and distributors to ISPs, web sites, social networks, and individual consumers-all stand to benefit from reliable content identification, which enables more efficient, transparent, and legally unambiguous ways to disseminate the billions of valuable “bits” of information and entertainment that Internet users have come to expect to access on demand.

Content Identification and Management Example Workflow

Example of Digital Watermarking Embeds for Parental Controls

Learn More

  • Download “The Case for Content Identification” White Paper (PDF, 207kb)
  • Download “Ensuring Child Safety in a Digital World — A Comprehensive Solutions to Parental Controlled Viewing Across
  • Devices and Platforms” (PDF, 240kb)
  • Register to View the Digital Watermarking Alliance’s Webcast: The Case for Content Identification – Supporting New Business Models and Effectively Managing Key Business Assets
  • DWA White Papers

Member companies who offer, “Content Identification and Management,” solutions: