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Photoshop shoots for safety

Adobe on Monday will announce Photoshop 4.0, with technology that puts invisible copyright protection into photographs.

Adobe Systems (ADBE) on Monday will announce Photoshop 4.0 for Macintosh and Windows, a release that will include digital watermarking technology that puts invisible copyright protection directly into photographs.

Digital watermarking adds copyright information to a photograph that doesn't alter the photo's appearance. The watermark is detectable even after the photo is edited or printed and rescanned.

Previous versions of Photoshop have supported plug-ins that created watermarking, but this is the first time such technology, created by Digimarc, will be directly integrated into the program. The integration should go a long way to spreading the use of a technology that addresses a growing need in electronic publishing.

"With anyone who publishes their work online, there's a fear of the misunderstanding that information is free, and there are few ways to indicate ownership in a way that's difficult to erase," said Kurt Foss, technology coordinator for the National Press Photographers Association's Electronic Photojournalism Workshop.

Photoshop 4.0 will also feature much simpler task automation. The Actions palette will let users record a sequence of editing steps into a macro applicable to other images or even other files in a batch process. For example, images from a digital camera can be downloaded, color-corrected, and saved into files automatically.

A new Guides and Grids feature will introduce tools traditionally used in page layout programs into Photoshop.

Photoshop 4.0 will also be compatible with the MMX multimedia extensions that Intel will incorporate into their chipsets, starting with the Pentium lineup this fall. Plug-in software will be included with Photoshop 4.0 for Windows.

Photoshop 4.0 will be available later this fall for Macintosh, Power Macintosh, Windows 3.1, 95, and NT at a suggested retail price of $895.