In the world of digital photography, one of the biggest problems for anyone interested in publishing their work online is copyright theft. Now, unscrupulous sorts who take the work of a photographer and pass it off as their own are already driving companies to head them off.

While digital watermarks are the most common approach, one of the more unusual techniques comes from Canon and involves using the photographer's eye as a signature of sorts.

Biometric stamp

The 'Iris Registration' technology uses the camera's viewfinder to record an image of the user's iris. As every iris is as different as a fingerprint, hiding this image in the digital data effectively stamps each photo with an invisible signature.

Canon's patent describes how it intends to add a registration mode to the control dial found on all cameras that allows up to five people to be associated with each camera.

To avoid slowing down shooting, Canon plans to have software add the iris information to each batch of photos when the photographer pauses between sessions. As for identifying stolen images, PC software will be able to identify anything marked by the system and compare it against any recorded iris pattern.