A defense against Photoshop funny business

Given the ease with which digital photos are manipulated and faked, they are often viewed with great suspicion by courts and consumers - at least those uninterested in naked celebrities.

Into this credibility breach steps a French company called CodaSystem and its product called "Shoot & Proof," which will make its American debut on Wednesday at DEMOfall07 here in San Diego.

Shoot & Proof is software plus a service that allows customers to use a variety of phones and cameras to take and store digital photographs that are watermarked, time-stamped, localized and signed, thus assuring their authenticity and protecting the owner against fakes.

Once a photo is in the system, Shoot & Proof system can determine that a copy has been doctored "if you change only one pixel in the picture," says Frederic Vanholder, managing director of CodaSystem. If a change is found, the customer receives a message that reads: "Warning: This picture is not a certified picture."

Shoot & Proof is being targeted at government entities and businesses that might benefit from reliable photographic documentation, including law enforcement, private investigators, lawyers, bailiffs, insurance companies, engineers, real estate agents, package delivery companies and even cleaning services.

The company says that its authenticated pictures have passed legal muster in European courts and it expects the same on U.S. soil, although most clients use the system more for the inherent credibility it produces in photo documentation than as a legal instrument.

The service costs under a dollar per picture, Vanholder says, and comes with a guarantee that photographs will be stored for 10 years. A free five-picture trial is available on the company's Web site, which also includes a list of supported phones and cameras.

You can see a PowerPoint presentation here. And, for those who speak French, there is this YouTube interview with CEO Frederic Levaux.

Vanholder didn't mention them as a potential customer, but can't you see this proving useful to the better paparazzi - at least the honest ones?

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