Robust digital image watermarking is an information security technique that has been widely used to solve several issues related mainly with copyright protection as well as ownership authentication. In general terms, robust watermarking conceals a small signal called a “watermark” in a host image in a form imperceptible to human vision. The efficiency of conventional robust watermarking based on frequency domain depend directly on the results of performance in terms of robustness and imperceptibility. According to the application scenario and the image dataset, it is common practice to adjust the key parameters used by robust watermarking methods in an experimental form; however, this manual adjustment may involve exhaustive tasks and at the same time be a drawback in practical scenarios. In recent years, several optimization techniques have been adopted by robust watermarking to allowing adjusting in an automatic form its key operation parameters, improving thus its performance. In this context, this paper proposes an improved robust watermarking algorithm in discrete Fourier transform via spread spectrum, optimizing the key operation parameters, particularly the amounts of bands and coefficients of frequency as well as the watermark strength factor using particle swarm optimization in conjunction with visual information fidelity and bit correct rate criteria. Experimental results obtained in this research show improved robustness against common signal processing and geometric distortions, preserving a high visual quality in color images. Performance comparison with conventional discrete Fourier transform proposal is provided, as well as with the current state-of-the-art of particle swarm optimization applied to image watermarking.
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