While the Internet has changed the way art is distributed, it has also changed how it is stolen. Thousands upon thousands of photos are uploaded every day to a plethora of hosting sites and personal websites/blogs. I think most of us have read enough stories by now to know that no image on the internet is safe from robbery, which is why, if we care about the safety of our photos we add a watermark and upload only reduced sizes. This doesn’t stop images from being stolen everyday. So what can we do about it?
TinEye is a reverse image search engine that looks for images online. Unlike Google Images or other such services that rely on keywords associated with the image file or found in the text close to it, TinEye can search for specific images based on their content. Feed it one of your photos and it will search for it online, even if it’s been cropped and resized! Now how cool is that?
TinEye is just starting out, so the websites it has crawled through looking for images are still limited in number—the internet is a big place! However, as time progresses and TinEye’s database grows, it can provide a valuable resource to those of us who care about where our photos are being used. In their FAQs they’ve stated the following:
We hope to introduce a paid feature which will allow you to upload or point to a group of images, and have TinEye check for matches on a regular basis, sending you updates when a match is found.
This makes perfect business sense, both for them and for professional photographers worried about their artistic rights being violated.
For now, TinEye offer a Plugin for Firefox and IE that allows you to click on any image on the web and see if it’s posted elsewhere. You can also just go to TinEye’s mainpage and point to a specific online address or upload an image and search from there.