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Graphics Software

Photoshop CS Adds Banknote Image Detection, Blocking? 1059

Phosphor writes "A visitor to the Adobe Photoshop-for-Windows Forum (registration required to post, can log in as guest) has described a curious 'feature' with Photoshop 8 (also known as 'CS'). Seems this latest version of Adobe's flagship product has the built-in ability to detect that an image is of American currency. Something has been built into Photoshop's core coding that can detect something in images of currency and will prevent the user from opening the file. Apparently it will also do this with Euro notes; info on other currency is pending." According to other online reports, the latest version of Paint Shop Pro has similar restrictions, also known about since late last year.
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Photoshop CS Adds Banknote Image Detection, Blocking?

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  • What's next? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by l810c ( 551591 ) * on Thursday January 08, 2004 @04:04AM (#7912541)
    'This application does not allow the unauthorized viewing of pornographic images...'
  • So too, do I have the ability to tell American currency from other random images. If you have doubts about whether a document with an image on it in your wallet is American currency or not, please send it to me and I will verify whether it is American currency or otherwise.

    I do this not for any personal gain, but only as a public service.
  • by illuminata ( 668963 ) on Thursday January 08, 2004 @04:04AM (#7912548) Journal
    With this new feature, how will the rap industry design album covers for their artists?
  • Which ones? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ReyTFox ( 676839 ) on Thursday January 08, 2004 @04:04AM (#7912549)
    Does this include, for example, the "new $20?" (Or the "old $20" that didn't have the cartoony numbers.) Or is it imprecise? Will different denominations work with it? Inquering counterf---minds want to know... ^.^
  • by Hegemony ( 104638 ) on Thursday January 08, 2004 @04:05AM (#7912552)
    ...who aren't smart enough to use older versions of their software!!
  • by bloxnet ( 637785 ) on Thursday January 08, 2004 @04:05AM (#7912559)
    I believe many photocopiers have somewhat similar detection and preventitive measures for people trying to copy U.S. currency (printers too I have heard). Really this is one of those things that I know people will gripe about, but I cannot see a single real scenario where this truly makes a problem for anyone.
    • by R33MSpec ( 631206 ) * on Thursday January 08, 2004 @04:27AM (#7912680) Homepage
      What happens if I want to make a backup copy of a note that I have in my wallet? At least if my wallet is lost or stolen i will have a backup of the cash that was inside there!
    • by zakezuke ( 229119 ) on Thursday January 08, 2004 @05:43AM (#7913004)
      but I cannot see a single real scenario where this truly makes a problem for anyone

      When I wanted to copy currency was when I was contructing a three dollar bill, and I was going to use other currency as a template.

      One legit application I can think of for scanning currency would be for collectors who wish to archive their collection. At one point I had a 1986 Canadian $2.00 bill... near as I can tell they switched to a two and one dollar coin a long time ago. While you might consider this nutty... imagine stamp collectors. Legit enough hobby.

      I wanted to show it to someone, who was a canadian, and did a scan, making sure I put on it in bold friendly letters "copy copy copy copy".

      That reminds me, I do have some out of print currency I should take the time to scan. Unique images should be saved.

  • by ultrapenguin ( 2643 ) on Thursday January 08, 2004 @04:07AM (#7912564)
    Now, aside from the fact whether this is a good or a bad feature, but will localized versions of Adobe photoshop CS be detecting local currency, or will they only have routines for U.S. dollars?

    I don't want to feel left out, what if I wanted to use photoshop to make some fake Canadian money? :D
  • Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Beolach ( 518512 ) <beolach@nosPAM.juno.com> on Thursday January 08, 2004 @04:07AM (#7912567) Homepage Journal
    Not only is this rather invasive, as other posters have commented, but what's the point? I mean, their are dozens of other much better anti-counterfeiting measures on today's currency. So why have this "feature" at all? It really seems like a waste to me.
    • Re:Why? (Score:4, Informative)

      by Bastian ( 66383 ) on Thursday January 08, 2004 @04:16AM (#7912618)
      Because those measures still fail. Especially in dark places like bars where it's hard to see the anti-counterfeiting measures in the bills. Pass a half-decent phony note on a busy night, and you're almost guaranteed to get away with it.

      this has been pulled of with high-quality scanners and printers in the past - just copy the note on fairly thick printer paper, then distress it a bit to give it the texture of a used bill. Hence the reason why this is being built into better scanners and laser printers nowadays. Consumer inkjet printers are also good enough to do this, but don't have the electronics to do any decent detection. This is probably the reason it's being built into Photoshop now.
  • This is not enough (Score:4, Interesting)

    by DJ Rubbie ( 621940 ) on Thursday January 08, 2004 @04:07AM (#7912571) Homepage Journal
    These kinds of restrictions must be placed in hardware (although I think it is idiotic in nature anyway) if it must be enforced, because I could scan it, save it onto the hard drive, load up Gimp (or any other unrestricted software), change the serial number (or add other alteration), and send it to the printer.

    I think the hardware I describe does exist, somewhere... perhaps someone can enlighten us about those.

    Oh yeah, I do wonder what might happen if somehow this 'feature' may prevent opening of normal, user files (although unlikely).

    Hmm... how about any possible DMCA issues surrounding all this?
  • by Jarnis ( 266190 ) on Thursday January 08, 2004 @04:08AM (#7912578)
    And next week the govt labels GIMP as a tool for counterfeiting - evil open source terrorist tool etc... :)
  • by ctrl-alt-elite ( 679492 ) on Thursday January 08, 2004 @04:12AM (#7912595)
    Well, at least at this stage of the game, Photoshop can't recognize Monopoly money. Boardwalk here I come!
  • pshaw. (Score:5, Funny)

    by Valar ( 167606 ) on Thursday January 08, 2004 @04:12AM (#7912597)
    Bet it won't stop those images I've been using to run off fake quarters...
  • by Rosco P. Coltrane ( 209368 ) on Thursday January 08, 2004 @04:13AM (#7912602)
    Seems this latest version of Adobe's flagship product has the built-in ability to detect that an image is of American currency

    In other news: counterfeiters worldwide embrasse free software, the Gimp to receive funding from certain american-italian associations ...
  • by simpleguy ( 5686 ) on Thursday January 08, 2004 @04:15AM (#7912609) Homepage
    Maybe I was living in a cave but when was Photoshop Counter Strike released ???
  • by Guido del Confuso ( 80037 ) on Thursday January 08, 2004 @04:18AM (#7912623)
    But they didn't go far enough! They should also prevent you from editing images of coins!

    Reminds me of a joke... A counterfeiter accidentally prints up a batch of $18 bills. He figures, what the heck, and heads off into the mountains to find some hillbillies, figuring they don't know anything about money anyway. He runs across a couple of them sitting on a porch, rolls down his window, and shouts, "Any of you got change for an $18 bill?"

    One of them shouts back, "Sure do! You want 3 sixes or 6 threes?"
    • by Rosco P. Coltrane ( 209368 ) on Thursday January 08, 2004 @04:37AM (#7912744)
      heads off into the mountains to find some hillbillies, figuring they don't know anything about money anyway. He runs across a couple of them sitting on a porch, rolls down his window, and shouts, "Any of you got change for an $18 bill?"

      One of them shouts back, "Sure do! You want 3 sixes or 6 threes?"

      This story is obviously an urban legend : what self-respecting mountain hillbilly would have known 3x6=18?
  • by erroneus ( 253617 ) on Thursday January 08, 2004 @04:19AM (#7912639) Homepage
    ...as if this has truly long-term effects. I suppose counterfeiters might prefer photoshop, but what about those that prefer Gimp? I guess since Photoshop stands in their way, then Gimp will become their new favorite.

    Time and time again it is generally not the ink but the paper that most needs duplication when attempting counterfeit. I see this as a silly waste of resources. Generally speaking, if I or just about anyone I know were inclined to do anything with the image of currency, it'd probably be to deface it in some way... or maybe put my face in there... who knows what cheesy thing that has been done a hundred times before.

    The point is, even though there's not likely to be a huge public outcry about this, this does offer a pretty interesting blow to free expression. Who influenced the action?
  • by PizzaFace ( 593587 ) on Thursday January 08, 2004 @04:20AM (#7912644)
    Attention counterfeiters: I have old versions of image-editing software for sale! The price just doubled but you don't have much choice now, do you? Payment by cash only ... uh, never mind.
  • by harlows_monkeys ( 106428 ) on Thursday January 08, 2004 @04:24AM (#7912661) Homepage
    I was watching a show on the History Channel about counterfeiting, and they were interviewing one of the designers of United States bills. The graphical workstation he used? Photoshop on a Mac (black & white G4, it looked like).

    I hope Adobe has a special version for the Treasury Department that doesn't have this restriction!

  • WTF? (Score:5, Informative)

    by SmallFurryCreature ( 593017 ) on Thursday January 08, 2004 @04:25AM (#7912667) Journal
    Is it illegal or something to scan and alter images of money? I can see the advertising world getting into troubles. It is illegal in holland at least to make reproductions of money so if you print a note you make it an absurd size. No one is gonna mistake a poster for a real a banknote. Or you discolor it or make it an odd amount (27 euro notes)

    Point is I have seen and still see plenty of ads in wich bank notes are displayed. So how are you now supposed to make that art?

    If this is true and I smell april fool then I think this is a sign of insanity. Criminals won't be stopped by this.

  • by Ambush ( 120586 ) on Thursday January 08, 2004 @04:25AM (#7912669)
    You've got to ask what the incentive is for Adobe (and Jasc, et al) to go through all the R&D to develop this feature.

    Unless the application developer actualy increases sales of their product through this feature then why bother?

    At the risk of sounding like a conspiracy nut (where's my tinfoil hat anyway?), if this is of benefit only to the reserve bank then how was Adobe/Jasc/Xerox/etc convinced to implement this?

  • by thopo ( 315128 ) on Thursday January 08, 2004 @04:27AM (#7912675)
    Photoshop scans every image, and even the clipboard, for banknotes. Since the algo seems to be pretty smart (rotation etc. doesn't matter) i guess it's rather slow. People have been reporting that CS is slower than PS7 on the adobe forums for a while, i guess now we know the reason.
  • by malia8888 ( 646496 ) on Thursday January 08, 2004 @04:27AM (#7912676)
    From the article: However, Photoshop CS refuses to open the image, and provides an error message regarding the (il)legality of currency reproduction and an "information" button that takes you to the web.

    All I can say is my panties are definately in a bunch over this!! I have some pretty ugly relatives. What if Photoshop gives me error messages regarding the following: "Your family is so unattractive that we are redirecting you to the web where you can pick out better-looking people to populate your Adobe Family Photo Album.

    It could happen.

  • Activation. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by themassiah ( 80330 ) <scooper@coopster.net> on Thursday January 08, 2004 @04:28AM (#7912686) Homepage Journal
    I find it interesting that the Slashdot community is upset about this 'protection from counterfeiting', but isn't up in arms about the required product activation [adobe.com]. With more than half of SlashDot using the Windows platform, you'd think there would be more concern about this.
    • Re:Activation. (Score:5, Interesting)

      by themassiah ( 80330 ) <scooper@coopster.net> on Thursday January 08, 2004 @04:34AM (#7912714) Homepage Journal
      Even more distressing, when I read through all of Adobe's licensing drivel is the part about where the activation is stored. It seems much like TurboTax's activation scheme, from the initial details.

      From Adobe:
      "Q: Do I have to reactivate if I reformat my hard drive?

      A: As long as you don't "low-level" reformat your hard drive, you will not be required to reactivate Photoshop CS software. Please note that normal utilities (provided by the operating system vendor) for reformatting the hard drive do not perform a "low-level" reformat."
  • by thopo ( 315128 ) on Thursday January 08, 2004 @04:46AM (#7912786)
    How do you know it only scans for banknotes? Maybe it scans your private pictures for known terrorists and sends the information during the next product activation? Next thing you know a SWAT team raids your house because your uncle Pete, who has a long beard, looks like a terrorist to PS CS.

    What if you have pictures of chemical elements needed to make biological weapons on your computer? Does PS CS know you're a chemistry student?

    Go ahead, make tinfoil hat jokes all you like, but do you know it's only limited to banknotes?
  • If you're trying to counterfeit money, why would you be loading it up into photoshop to edit it in the first place? I rather though counterfeit money was supposed to be identical to the originals. Maybe this would have been better implemented in printer hardware (or just not at all, cos it's dumb).

    The only reason I've ever edited images of currency was to produce joke bills with somebody elses face on them, or 1,000,000 notes.

  • by UserChrisCanter4 ( 464072 ) on Thursday January 08, 2004 @04:59AM (#7912862)
    I was using Photoshop 7.0 on OS X and ran into a similar problem. I was scanning a Versace ad from a magazine (it was for a random class project), and I needed to be able to blow up a portion of the ad a reasonable amount. I planned to put it on a large print, so I scanned at 800dpi. Photoshop apparently saw some sort of watermark in the ad itself (or the magazine page, it was in one of those gigantic fashion mags with like 500 pages, 8 of which are content) and refused to allow me to do anything with it other than resizing. I scanned at a lower dpi (400), and was able to circumvent the problem. Seemed kind of ghetto to me, though. I haven't tried it under CS, but I'll bet the watermarks exist there, as well.
  • Two obvious projects (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Alsee ( 515537 ) on Thursday January 08, 2004 @05:00AM (#7912865) Homepage
    The first obvious project is to locate and trivially disable the check. This is no harder than disabling routine anti-piracy checks, and we all know those are solved within hours of release.

    The second, and far more interesting project is to the reverse engineer the check itself. It would be facinating to see the US government's own algorithm for flagging/detecting US currency. It would then be almost trivial to embed a false "US currency" flag in almost any image. You could post your entire porn collection on the web with an invisible bogus "US currency" watermark :D

  • by DigiShaman ( 671371 ) on Thursday January 08, 2004 @05:06AM (#7912886) Homepage
    Just wait until Adobe gets payed off to include corporate logos from being scanned or altered either. Seems far fetched? Well...just read my sig.

  • by Eminence ( 225397 ) <akbrandt@gma[ ]com ['il.' in gap]> on Thursday January 08, 2004 @05:28AM (#7912953) Homepage
    What is worrying here is not the fact that this feature was built into Photoshop but that it was done secretly. This kind of secret arrangement between companies and government has long tradition in the US, but think about other nice features that can be put into closed source software as a result. Some may not be as easy to detect.
  • by zcat_NZ ( 267672 ) <zcat@wired.net.nz> on Thursday January 08, 2004 @05:50AM (#7913030) Homepage
    .. which is linked from the site the error message refers you to says you CAN make full-colour copies of US currency, as long as the image is single-sided and at least 75% smaller or 150% larger than a real note.

  • Activation? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by hacker ( 14635 ) <hacker@gnu-designs.com> on Thursday January 08, 2004 @09:20AM (#7913773)
    With all of the "techniques" Adobe uses to secure, protect, and "manage" their software (DMCA, active "online" activation, etc.), it wouldn't be a far stretch for them to simply notify the proper authorities/Treasury Department. when you decide to try to copy a piece of U.S. currency. I know many (all? perhaps it is mandatory now?) copiers are required to flag the date/time/etc. when currency is copied on their machines. When a service technician comes in to repair the unit, or perform regular service, they are required to report this list of dates/times to the local authorities, who handles it from there.

    Why wouldn't it be possible for Adobe Photoshop CS (or any other commercial, proprietary, non-Open Source) application to just report it automatically, online, via a couple of small UDP/TCP packets to the proper authorities? Not only will they get your machine name, serial number of the software, IP address, provider, etc. but we're all connected anyway, you probably wouldn't even see the packets go across.

    Just something to think about.

  • by artemis67 ( 93453 ) on Thursday January 08, 2004 @10:03AM (#7914045)
    No Wonder Photoshop CS Seems Slow - It's Analiyzing Images For Content!

    Brian NoSpam - 10:02am Jan 7, 2004 Pacific

    We received a TIFF image from a customer, of a $20 bill. The image does
    *not* violate any laws regarding reproduction of currency (it's not even
    close to actual-size, and it's not a "flat" portrayal - it's wavy, as if
    it's fluttering in the wind. Nor is it real-color.

    However, Photoshop CS refuses to open the image, and provides an error
    message regarding the (il)legality of currency reproduction and an
    "information" button that takes you to the web. (Photoshop 7, of course,
    has no such qualms).

    What the hell is this? In my book this is completely unacceptable -
    Photoshop is an image editor, not a censor, government policy enforcer
    or anything else.

    Adobe, you've got some explaining to do.

  • by efudddd ( 312615 ) on Thursday January 08, 2004 @10:03AM (#7914046)
    I work at an large investment bank, doing graphics. Guess what one of the analysts' favorite images is? The final designs never are confused with the real thing (although there is occasionally the guy who wants something modified for an internal joke). For one thing, we almost always end up using small portions of bills in collages, and they are printed off-color and off-size to avoid snagging on the fair-use copyright law.

    But we still have to start from the base root-of-all-evil image. And using portions of the bills means scanning them in at higher resolution as the fragments are used larger than normal. I just tried pasting the image somebody posted into a new copy of Mac version of Photoshop CS (this jpeg has "specimen" written on it twice). PS CS pops up dialog: "This application does not support the unauthorized processing of banknote images."

    Can we still copy little fragments? How about taking high-res photos and pasting in? Our department haw always used common sense regarding fair use and never had a problem; we do high-volume output, and don't have time to screw around with this stuff. Thanks for making our life harder, Adobe! You just lost one upgrade sale, because I will make sure we keep a copy of PS 7 specifically to circumvent this hassle.
  • by Pedrito ( 94783 ) on Thursday January 08, 2004 @10:09AM (#7914074)
    Well, this makes it pretty clear that there's a niche market that could be served here. Simply need to come up with a Photoshop clone that doesn't discriminate against counterfitters. And man, I bet they'd be willing to pay a lot for that. Cash, under the table. Excellent!
  • by wytcld ( 179112 ) on Thursday January 08, 2004 @10:10AM (#7914081) Homepage
    But I only copy banknotes for backups!
  • by sisukapalli1 ( 471175 ) on Thursday January 08, 2004 @10:31AM (#7914265)
    I have had a similar experience with Illustrator. I had to embed some eps figures (complex math equations made from latex, with fonts embedded in the eps). Acrobat shows the pdf fine, but illustrator has a lot of problems.

    Turns out that Illustrator doesn't want people to use unauthorized fonts. So, I copy the latex fonts to distiller directory and try to view the equations -- they are messed up, because latex shifts the fonts a bit (characters in the fonts) to accomodate other viewers, and that shifted font table is inside the eps. So, I get strange characters in the equations *after taking care of putting in the fonts at the right place*.

    I believe in this case, the rule was, "thou shall not pirate fonts." Doesn't matter if the fonts are
    20 yr old fonts in public domain.

    Over simplified rules "thou shall not photocopy money" are similar in spirit to the Talebanesque rules like "thou shall not look at another woman's face". Duh, I may be the only doc around and if the woman has a tumor on her face (or other, more private parts), I should be able to see it to cure it.


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