Defending the authenticity of sound in the age of AI: How advanced audio watermarking technologies are re-emerging

 1. Introduction

In a world increasingly dominated by sophisticated artificial intelligence (AI) technologies, the authenticity of audio content has never been more at risk. The music industry, voice actors, content creators and even call centers are facing unprecedented challenges due to the proliferation of AI-generated audio forgeries. These challenges threaten not only intellectual property rights, but also the privacy and the very nature of authenticity of digital audio content. In this article, we explore how and why proprietary audio watermarking technologies are critical to protecting against these new threats.

2. The growing threat of AI-generated audio forgery

Fake, AI-generated and AI-manipulated audio poses a major threat to many sectors. The AI boom is accelerating, we are entering a new digital era in many fields, and audio and sound is one of them.

The music industry thrives on creativity and originality, but AI-generated audio fakes are jeopardizing these core values. Counterfeit music tracks, unauthorized remixes and deepfake songs can flood the market and lead to significant revenue losses for artists and producers. Apart from the financial consequences, these counterfeits dilute the uniqueness of the artists’ work and damage their reputation and the trust of their fans.

Voice actors, who earn their living with their unique vocal talent, are increasingly threatened by AI-generated voice copies. This technology can create unauthorized voice clones, leading to unauthorized commercial use and intellectual property infringement.

In call centers, recordings often contain sensitive personal information. The recorded conversations can be stolen and leaked. AI-generated audio recordings can mimic voices or falsify conversations, leading to serious data breaches and legal complications. The integrity of these recordings is not just a matter of regulatory compliance, but a cornerstone of consumer trust.

These are just a few examples of areas and markets in audio that are under attack from AI. And AI is here to stay and grow exponentially. It is a great tool, but industries need to learn how to live in the new era and preserve their identity and core values.

3. The role of audio watermarking in ensuring authenticity

Audio watermarking technology plays a central role in authenticating and protecting audio content in a variety of contexts. Digital watermarking is a form of steganography. The idea behind digital watermarking is to embed and hide a secret, imperceptible digital signature (data, code, identifier) in acoustic content so that this information cannot be removed without compromising the original audio quality. The embedded, inaudible information can be retrieved and used to verify the authenticity of the audio content, identify the owner or recipient, or serve as an event trigger. You can find more information about watermarks here on Wikipedia. The watermark can, for example, contain information about the authorship of the music track. It can also contain information about the recipient to whom the owner of the recording originally sent the audio recording.

This technology is invaluable in many different areas. For example, it helps music and audio producers track down unauthorized copies of their work, enables call centers to verify the authenticity of important recordings, protects voice actors from illegal duplication of their voices and provides broadcasters with evidence of illegal duplication and reproduction of content. In court, audio watermarking can help verify evidence and ensure that recordings presented in court are genuine and untampered. The versatility and customizability of audio watermarking make it an indispensable tool in the age of advanced AI to preserve the integrity of audio content in various fields.

Here are some reasons why audio watermarking is becoming increasingly important in the age of advanced AI technologies:

1. Protecting intellectual property rights: as AI makes it easier to duplicate and alter audio content, watermarking ensures that original creators can effectively assert and protect their intellectual property rights.

2. Preventing deepfake abuse: With the proliferation of deepfake audio, watermarks help detect and prevent the distribution of fake content that could be used for misinformation or malicious purposes.

3. Protecting the music industry: Audio watermarking helps musicians and producers protect their work from unauthorized use or distribution – a crucial factor in an age where AI can easily create and alter music.

4. Maintaining privacy in communications: In sectors such as call centers where recordings contain sensitive information, the watermark helps to verify the authenticity of these recordings, protecting against AI-generated voice impersonation and fraud.

5. Verification of legal evidence: Watermarking serves as a tool to authenticate audio evidence in legal cases, where distinguishing between real and AI-generated audio can be crucial.

6. Controlling monetization and licensing: Audio watermarks allow content creators and distributors to track the use of their works, ensuring proper licensing and monetization, which is particularly important as AI facilitates the distribution of digital content.

7. Combating voice cloning: AI can clone voices with frightening accuracy. Watermarking provides a method to distinguish between real and cloned voice recordings and protects actors and public figures from unauthorized voice copies.

8. Increasing the security of broadcasts: For live broadcasts and media, watermarks can be used to embed real-time information that confirms the source and integrity of the audio stream, preventing AI-induced tampering or hijacking.

9. Ensuring the authenticity of content in education and research: In academia and research, it is important to confirm the authenticity of audio content. Watermarking helps to protect the integrity of educational and research materials against AI tampering.

10. Supporting the integrity of journalism: In journalism, verifying the authenticity of audio clips is essential for credible reporting. Audio watermarks can enable this verification, protecting against AI-generated fake news and maintaining public trust in the media.

Audio watermarking is thus becoming an important tool in various fields and provides a robust defense against the challenges posed by sophisticated AI technologies in the field of digital audio data.

4. The downside of open audio watermarking techniques

As in any other field, various open or even open-source audio watermarking solutions have been developed that offer enough performance and features to compete with proprietary solutions in this field. However, there are several drawbacks to using open-source solutions. Here are just a few reasons why the efficiency of such open solutions is very limited.

Increased security against AI tampering: Proprietary watermarking algorithms are not published, making it much more difficult for AI systems to learn how to recognize, copy or delete these watermarks. In contrast, open-source algorithms that are publicly available can be studied and potentially outwitted by advanced AI systems. Open watermarking techniques are like an open book for AI algorithms. If the AI gets enough attention, it can learn to mimic or delete these watermarks, rendering them ineffective.

Controlled distribution and use: With proprietary watermarks, the distribution of the technology is controlled, limiting the risk of it falling into the wrong hands. This control is important to prevent attackers from testing the watermark and finding ways to circumvent it – a risk that is inherently higher with widely used open-source solutions.

Customized and specialized solutions: Proprietary watermarking solutions often offer customization options tailored to the needs of specific industries or specific types of threats. This level of specialization, which can include customization for unique audio qualities or specific security requirements, is not available with open solutions.

For the reasons mentioned above, open watermarking solutions are vulnerable and offer only a very limited level of protection to audio content owners. This is where proprietary watermarking solutions come into play. Due to their secrecy, they are much more resistant to AI tampering and offer more secure protection against digital fraud.

Funnily enough, the use of open watermarking solutions can even completely undermine the idea of using watermarks as a forensic tool. While the use of open technologies is becoming increasingly popular in various fields, the use of open watermarking solutions is clearly at odds with their purpose.

5. The benefits of audio watermarking for AI-generated content services

Interestingly, the field of AI-generated audio content can also benefit immensely from the application of audio watermarking. Services that create AI-generated voices, music or other audio content can embed watermarks into their output as a kind of digital signature. This watermark acts as an indelible mark of origin, confirming that the sound was generated by a specific AI service. This is particularly useful for ensuring transparency and accountability in an industry where the lines between AI-generated and human-produced content are becoming increasingly blurred. For AI services, this practice not only strengthens the credibility of their content, but also protects their intellectual property. It ensures that the use of their AI content is traceable, which can prevent misuse and unauthorized distribution. With the introduction of watermarking, AI audio generation services show that they are committed to ethical standards, adding a layer of trust and authenticity in the ever-evolving digital audio landscape.

6. Conclusion

In the rapidly evolving digital audio landscape, the threat of AI-generated fake or unauthorized audio files is real and growing. Proprietary audio watermarking technologies are a glimmer of hope as they offer robust, versatile and secure solutions to protect the authenticity of audio content.

There are several vendors on the market offering proprietary watermarking solutions. AudioWatermarking.com is an experienced technology provider with more than a decade of experience and offers proprietary, patented audio watermarking technologies. The AWT family of watermarking technologies provides industrial-grade performance. Whether it’s protecting the creative output of the music industry, maintaining the privacy of call center recordings or preserving the unique talents of voice actors, AWT5 and AWT2 are ready to defend the integrity of sound in the digital age. Explore the potential of these technologies at AudioWatermarking.com and help us preserve the authenticity of audio in our digital world.

AWT2 – The forensic guardian: AWT2 offers a patented solution for forensic watermarking. It embeds an invisible and inaudible watermark into audio content, making it possible to trace and verify the origin and integrity of the content. This technology is invaluable for court proceedings where proving the authenticity of audio evidence is crucial.

AWT5 – The Over-the-Air Protector: AWT5 specializes in the remote digital transmission of signals over the air. It is able to embed data into audio content that can be reliably extracted even in difficult acoustic environments. This is particularly useful for live events and broadcasts where the authenticity of the audio content is of paramount importance.

As we move through the complex and rapidly evolving AI age, the importance of audio watermarking technology is becoming ever more apparent. Proprietary watermarking solutions such as AWT products are characterized by increased security, customization options and controlled distribution, and are particularly effective. They not only protect against the current range of AI-induced threats, but also anticipate and prepare for future challenges. In the digital world, where the authenticity of audio content is constantly under threat, these advanced audio watermarking technologies are not just useful but essential to ensure trust, integrity and security.

About the author: www.radzishevsky.info, https://www.linkedin.com/in/radzishevsky/
Watermarking technologies: www.AudioWatermarking.com
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AWT5 Now Supports Time-Accurate Event Triggering and Device Time Synchronization

We are pleased to introduce two new practical features to AWT5, enhancing its functionality in audio watermarking.

1. Triggering Events with High Timing Accuracy: AWT5 has been updated to include a specialized mechanism for “trigger events.” This feature allows for the precise decoding of a payload encoded in a digital watermark at a predetermined moment in an audio stream. It activates a predefined action or reaction at the exact required time. Built on the core watermarking functionality of AWT5, this new mechanism ensures that events are triggered with a high degree of temporal accuracy. The new capability enables improved interactive experiences by triggering actions at specific times.

2. Device Time Synchronization via Audio Stream: We have also integrated a feature that enables AWT5 watermarks to embed timestamps into an audio stream. This enhancement is designed to facilitate the synchronization of devices. For example, a listening device, such as a smartphone, can now accurately synchronize with audio from a playback source, like a television, by extracting these timestamps. As the playback device broadcasts watermarked audio, the listening device can decode these timestamps, aligning exactly with the broadcast time. This functionality improves synchronization between devices, making it a practical addition for various applications.

These new features are a step forward in our ongoing efforts to improve AWT5’s capabilities. We invite you to explore how these updates can benefit your audio watermarking needs.

For more information, please visit our website: www.audiowatermarking.com.

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RTV Slovenija Licenses AFT Technology

RTV Slovenija Licenses AFT Technology to Streamline Audio Content Management

www.audiowatermarking.com – March 15th, 2023 – RTV Slovenija, Slovenia’s national public broadcasting organization, has chosen to integrate AFT technology into its audio content management, monitoring, and archival system. AFT, an acoustic fingerprinting (hashing) solution, allows for reliable acoustic matching, comparison, and identification of audio through highly representative and resistant fingerprints.

By implementing AFT, RTV Slovenija will be able to streamline its internal processes related to monitoring and managing audio recordings used in various TV and radio broadcasts. This technology will help to improve the overall quality of RTV Slovenija’s audio content and ensure a better experience for its viewers and listeners.

For further information on AFT’s audio fingerprinting solution, please visit www.audiowatermarking.com.

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AWT5 adds support for ultrasonic signaling

Introducing the next generation of AWT5 audio watermarking technology. AWT5 now supports both the audible frequency range and ultrasonic signaling, providing unmatched flexibility and versatility. With AWT5, you can transmit information over both the audible and ultrasonic frequency ranges while maintaining the integrity of the original audio signal. Moreover, with ultrasonic signaling capabilities, you can now transmit information without audible audio, via “silent” sound waves. AWT5’s new capability replaces AWT3’s ultrasonic signaling and takes it to a whole new level.

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SkyView Networks licenses AWT technology

26 January, 2022 // www.audiowatermarking.com — Skyview Networks LLC, a leading U.S. broadcast technology company, is licensing AWT technology to be incorporated into its content distribution services and infrastructure. AWT is a digital signaling solution that enables ancillary digital data to be embedded into distributed audio content. The ability to enrich audio content with ancillary data significantly enhances Skyview’s tools to deliver the most feature-rich content and guarantee the best experience to its customers and end-users.

Detailed information on AWT audio watermarking and sound signaling solutions: www.audiowatermarking.com.

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AWT5 — new watermarking solution in the AWT family

AudioWatermarking announces availability of its new audio watermarking and signaling solution — AWT5.

Audio Watermarking Tools 5 (AWT5) is an audio trigger and watermarking solution especially designed for reliable far-field over-the-air digital signaling. AWT5 applications include “second screen” synchronization, interactivity and interaction via sound, “kick-shopping”, distant triggering, events initiation, and other applications implying transmission of digital codes over-the-air by means of acoustic sound waves. AWT5 is based on a unique and fully proprietary technique of hiding data inside acoustic audio content. AWT5 codes reliably withstand transmission over the air (from loudspeakers to microphone), lossy audio coding (e.g. MP3, Youtube) and room reverberations (e.g. living rooms, halls). AWT5 triggering occurs with high timing accuracy. AWT5 replaces AWT2 in applications requiring reliable over-the-air detection, AWT5 also replaces AWT3 in applications implying transmission of lossy-compressed sound over the air (e.g. FM radio, TV broadcasts, YouTube, etc.).

More information: https://audiowatermarking.info/awt5

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Major AWT2 Technology Update

AudioWatermarking.info announces a major update of its AWT2 audio watermarking technology, v0.14.01.

  • New default “medium capacity” mode (expanding the existing “normal” and “high” capacities); the new mode provides the most optimal balance between watermark transparency, robustness and data-rate
  • New type of checksum used in the raw (low-level) watermark payload, providing significantly improved robustness and lower error rate
  • The encoder now supports audio stream watermarking directly from command line / console. It can take PCM audio stream from the standard input (stdin) and send encoded (watermarked) audio data to the standard output (stdout), real-time.  
  • Completely rewritten decoder with improved detection accuracy and smarter decoding logic
  • Presets of settings optimized for different types of audio content and offering different
  • Completely rewritten SDK, now with native stream decoding and stream encoding functionality

Details and more information at www.audiowatermarking.info.

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UBT licenses AWT technology

UBT (http://universalbusinessteam.com) is a service provider offering its Audio and Video Streaming System to its various customers. The system is designed to allow managing, sharing and streaming audio and video content. UBT has licensed the AWT watermarking software to incorporate it within system as a monitoring and back-tracing mean.

UBT website: http://universalbusinessteam.com

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NOTA licenses AWT technology

Nota (http://nota.dk), a Danish Library and expertise center for people with blindness and low vision, licenses AWT technology to incorporate it within its system and workflow.

Nota website: https://nota.dk/om-nota/english

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Artinii licenses AWT technology

Artinii (https://artinii.com), a community-driven film distribution company, licenses AWT technology to incorporate it within its system and workflow. AWT engine helps to protect company’s releases.

Artinii website: https://artinii.com

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