Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Q: Why TrustedAudio? How can digital watermarking (signing) help me fight piracy?

A: If you share your audio track with someone and later find it publicly accessible on the Internet, sometimes you can’t figure out who leaked it. But if there was a way to send each of your recipients a unique file copy containing a hidden, secret and non-removable identifier that only you can retrieve, you could track down the source of the leak immediately. That’s what TrustedAudio enables you to do.


Q: What is TrustedAudio and how does it work?

A: For a detailed service description of TA, please refer to this page.


Q: What is digital audio watermarking (“digital signing”)?

A: Digital watermarking (“digital signing”) is a form of steganography. The idea behind digital audio watermarking is to embed and hide a secret and imperceptible digital signature (data, code, identifier) inside the acoustic content so that this information cannot be removed without degrading the original audio quality. TA uses its own proprietary watermarking engine to embed inaudible information into the audio content. This information can be retrieved and used to authenticate the audio content, and verify the identity of its owner and the recipient.


Q: What does “watermark retrieval” means, and how does it work?

A: Watermark retrieval is the process of analysis, detection and extraction of digital watermark (signature) information from an acoustic signal recording. This process is performed by the TA audio watermark decoding engine. To retrieve the signature, the user needs to upload an audio recording to TA on a dedicated page and wait a few seconds for the analysis results. The user can upload a full audio track to analyze, but an audio fragment 15 to 30 seconds long is usually enough to find and retrieve the signature. If a signature is found, its information is displayed on the screen. A private signature presence is reported and shown only to the signature owner (i.e., the TA user who created it). Public signature fields are displayed to all users, including non-registered and not logged-in TA visitors.


Q: What is a “signature”? What is a “public signature” and why would we sign publicly?

A: A signature is a watermark embedded into an audio file that carries information about the file, its owner and its recipient. A private signature is a signature that has no publicly visible fields. A private signature can be read only by the file owner (that is, only by the same TA user who created it). Private signatures are mainly used to back-trace the recipient to whom a file was sent. Information about the file copy recipient is a part of the signature, and is embedded into the file at the preparation stage, before the file copy is delivered to the recipient.

A public signature is a part of the private signature. It consists of only those signature fields that were marked as “public” at the time of the signature’s creation. A public signature can be retrieved and read by anyone, even by non-registered visitors. Note: for privacy reasons, information about the file recipient cannot be made public.

When you deliver your watermarked track via TA, you can decide whether or not others can retrieve part of this signature. If none of the signature fields are chosen to be public, then no one except you will be able to extract the signature data or even check whether the audio is signed or not. If some of the fields are selected to be public (such as your name and audio track information), anyone who has the file or its fragment will be able to retrieve its public signature data by analyzing its acoustic content using TA analyzer.

By sharing your publicly signed track with the world, you can claim your copyright and ownership of the track. Even if the audio file is renamed, converted and its meta-data removed, the acoustic content will still carry the watermark; it will be extractable, allowing anyone to verify the file origin and your ownership.


Q: How can I share my files using TA?

A: There are several ways. You can use a dedicated page on which you can quickly upload your files, add one or more recipients, select a desired output audio format and click “Send”. Uniquely watermarked copies of the uploaded files will be immediately sent to the recipients by e-mail (with either an attachment or a file download link). On another page, you can do the same thing, but download the watermarked copies yourself (instead of sending them by mail) and then manually share the signed copies with your recipients in any way you want. For frequently used files, you can upload and store them in the TA File Repository. You can share the files directly from the Repository using the same sharing methods, but without having to upload the files again and again each time. If you have your own website, you can even initiate the delivery process from there by using the TA API.


Q: Is TA safe to use for me? Will TA distribute or otherwise use the content I share via it?

A: We will never use or distribute your content. TA is built to protect your audio content and to allow you sharing it securely with only those you intend to. TA does not have any intentions to utilize your content otherwise. TA does not imply any "hidden" services. Refer to TA Privacy Policy for the official statement.


Q: For how long the watermarks are valid? For how long my files are protected?

A: The watermarks never expire and your audios are protected indefinitely. Your private signatures will remain extractable as long as your account remains active. Your public signatures will remain extractable as long as TrustedAudio exists.


Q: How robust are TA signatures? Is it easy to remove them?

A: The TA watermarking engine provides industrial-grade performance. TA watermarks are very resistant to all kinds of audio transformations and conversions such as sample-rate conversion, A/D – D/A conversion, transcoding using MP3, Ogg Vorbis and other lossy audio codecs, noise addition, editing (cropping, cutting, etc.), effects processing such as EQ and dynamic range compression, and waveform distortions (limiting, gain control). It is impossible to remove the watermark without causing a substantial loss of the original sound quality.


Q: How does digital signing (watermarking) affect the audio quality?

A: The TA watermarking algorithm does not compromise sound quality and provides inaudible watermarking. The watermarks are “transparent” to the listener and cannot be revealed using audio analysis tools or visual analysis. For the sake of truth, we don’t claim ultimate and absolute transparency because – as with any other real-world technology – very specific audio samples (“killer samples”) may exist and reveal some effects of watermarking on the original sound. For this reason and for added flexibility for power users, the TA interface allows users to manually select the interval where the watermark should be applied.


Q: Can I watermark videos?

A: At this stage, TA does not provide full support for video files. You can upload video files, and the audio stream will be watermarked and converted, but the video stream will be stripped out. However, if you still need to watermark audio track of a video file, you can do so by passing the audio track through the TA signing process and then merging it with your video. You should not worry about the watermark - it won't be corrupted by the video/audio exporting and format conversion process.


Q: Using TA, I discovered who pirated my track. Can TA help me sue him?

A: No. TA only provides you with the technical means to back-trace and find the pirate. TA cannot assist you with law enforcement. Please refer to the Witness Disclaimer in the TA Terms-of-Use.


Q: How long are signatures stored in TA? For how long are they accessible to users?

A: Signatures with publicly accessible fields (i.e., "public signatures") are stored in the TA database permanently, and their public data can be retrieved by anyone at any time, as long as the TA service exists and irrespective of the existence of their owner's account. Private signatures exist and are accessible to their owner for as long as their owner’s account exists in the TA system. Signatures are accessible regardless of the availability of their corresponding source or signed audio file copies that are on a user’s account and/or in the TA system.


Q: Can I browse TA's public signatures?

A: Public signatures cannot be browsed. The existence of public signature is not advertised. The only way to retrieve public signature information is to upload an audio recording (complete or fragment) to TA on a dedicated page and wait a few seconds for the analysis results. If signature with publicly visible fields is contained in the audio, its information will be displayed.


Q: Can the system accurately determine the signature and the right recipient of the watermarked file?

A: Yes, the signature extraction mechanism is very accurate and cannot mislead.


Q: Why TA's pricing scheme is so complicated?

A: In fact, it is not. Unlike other services, where users are usually charged subscription-like fees, TA offers a fully transparent service without hidden fees, thus providing predictable and controllable charges. TA's "granular" pricing scheme has been designed to provide equally transparent charges to all types of users – from private musicians, to companies using TA as their file distribution platform. TA users are charged for data traffic (uploads and downloads), for file hosting (non-watermarked sources and their watermarked copies waiting for download by designated recipients), for file watermarking and file format conversion, and for watermark retrieval. No other charges or fees apply.