Funny copy protection

I spent a couple of hours today experimenting with a color copying machine and my image editing program Gimp. The image below is the fruit of all my efforts:

Insert this png-image somewhere in a  text document (like Word, Publisher, InDesign), decrease the absolute size of the image to exactly 8 x 8 milimeters. Print the document out in color. Then try to make a color copy of the page on a modern copying machine… Chances are you’ll be pretty surprised =)

The five yellow rings are part of a so called Counterfeit Deterrence System secretly introduced in the mid 90’s on bank notes world wide. When scanners and copying machines detect that precise pattern, size and color  they are supposed to refuse their service.


Computer Scientist Markus Kuhn coined the pattern ”The Eurion Constellation” due to its use on Euro Bank Notes and because of it’s resemblance to the star constellation of Orion.

The topic doesnt seem to be widely known (due to official secrecy) but its been dealt with for example by Nick Gessler.

But apart from my own suggestion above I haven’t seen anyone describing a practical procedure where you make use of the pattern yourself.

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3 thoughts on “Funny copy protection

  1. Hi, I am going to try this. I was able to scan a bunch of USD in and print with no problem. I traced it back to here to see if my printer even detects it. another page I printed out and tried, of this image, I had no problems scanning or printing.

    I opened photoshop

    I changed the size settings to 8mmx8mxx

    I was able to print the file from photoshop

  2. Hi Erica. Fun to hear about your tests.Printing images/documents containing the special yellow rings should not be a problem at all. The challenge is to try to make a color copy of a paper containing the rings (to the exact right scale). Most modern scanners also have security functions that prevents you from scanning them in color. I’m actually surprised to hear that you could scan USD-bills. Did you realy scan them in color? I’ve tried to circumvent the security in a lot of different color copying machines. They all refused to make color copies of any paper containing the yellow rings.

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