Print News: HP Unveils Prooftag Technology for Original Artwork - News - Business News

20th November 2009: Recently at Paris Photo 2009, HP announced a new system enabling photographers and other artists to assign electronic tags to their original artwork. Developed in conjunction with Prooftag, the application comprises a three-part design by which painters can digitally verify their authentic art through an adhesive 'datamatrix' on the art against an internet database. In addition, the artist has an accompanying document for themselves and their client, identically tagged. The system is aimed against counterfeit sellers, and represents a leap in 'art protection.'

To date, the advent of computer technology has been to the detriment of standards in artwork authenticity. On 17th November, Keith Dsouza of techie-buzz.com reported that theft of internet images is widespread. At the same time, webmasters who protect their original artwork through watermarks are penalised in search rankings. They therefore face the choice of gaining a larger audience and having their authentic art corrupted by anonymous internet users, or being ignored entirely. Creative solutions such as that of Associated Press to watermark its news have proven ineffective.

HP's new application gives a measure of certainty to what freemanart.ca calls 'the fine art of authenticity.' Until now verifying original artwork has been the work of experts, equipped with knowledge of the painter's preferred paper dealer, and other biographical details. Moreover, the existing law means that, if an artwork is found to be fake after sale, the seller is not bound to remunerate the buyer. And as Harbottle & Lewis observe, proving a seller's dishonest intent is difficult. The ARTtrust application hence offers buyers peace of mind (though making experts redundant.)

The new ARTtrust technology can be employed using printers from HP's DesignJet Z Series. It benefits not only creative types, but anyone for whom connoisseurship is crucial: wine drinkers, jewellers etc. Last month, Christophe Bourguedieu was the first photographer to exhibit work employing the Prooftag system, though HP hopes it will gain widespread credibility in the art community. Santi Moreri, the Vice-President of HP's Imaging and Printing Group, noted HP's endeavour to work 'with artists to help them bring their work to life' while '[preserving] artistic integrity.'

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