Find Your Photos In Use with TinEye

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TinEye LogoIdée Inc have launched in private beta an image search engine which enables you to find your photos in use online, attempting to “do for images what Google does for text”. Understandably, it’s getting a lot of attention in the microstock world and the stock photo press. Registrations for access to the private beta system are currently being approved very quickly.

Idée offer various services which leverage their image recognition technology which finds images in use in print as well as online. Their clients include Getty Images, Jupiter Images, Masterfile and SuperStock from the stock photography market as well as Adobe Systems, Associated Press and Digg. TinEye is the latest application of their technology and one which has massive and broad potential application.

How TinEye Works

Although TinEye’s database contains ‘only’ 500 million images at this time, I was able to find a few examples of my microstock photos in use. It’s able to match partial and altered images as you can see in my examples below. Searches can be made by uploading the image you wish to match, or pasting the address of an online image. TinEye then matches the image with those in its database.

They’ve also built a Firefox plugin which enables you to perform a TinEye search with a simple right-click on any online image.

Another handy feature is a comparison tool which allows you to toggle between your original image and the images from the search results in a single window. This enables you to easily see the differences between the two images.

How Can I Use TinEye?

The obvious use for microstock contributors is to find usage of your images for fun, an ego boost, or to build a list of images in use for a professional bio or portfolio. It’s also quite good at finding microstock photos on microstock agencies having indexed photos from iStockphoto, Shutterstock, Fotolia, 123rf, Crestock and BigStockPhoto.

There is also a possibility that you will find unlicensed and watermarked versions of your image in use. It’s near impossible to know which use is unlicensed when a photo has been sold with a Royalty Free license, though it’s possible to find usage which requires an extended license for a photo with no extended license sales. However, even the license fee of an extended license for microstock photos makes it difficult to justify the effort required to police unlicensed usage.

License enforcement is more useful for photos sold with a Rights Managed license where licenses are controlled, making it easy to spot unauthorized usage. The higher license fees also make it more worthwhile chasing fees for unauthorized usage.

TinEye can also work against photographers, allowing people to find and freely download high resolution and un-watermarked versions if they appear online.   I was able to find web-resolution versions of many of my own microstock photos in just a few seconds. I also found an un-watermarked and relatively large version (1000 x 667 pixels) of only the second image I tested from the Shutterstock Top50 photos.

Image Search in Context

Idée shares many of its clients with PicScout, their nearest competitor. Google are also experimenting with image recognition technology. However, Idée are the first to create a publicly accessible facility, though it’s not yet technically public.

Having a public facility broadens awareness, scope of applications and available methods of monetization. Though Idée haven’t yet made any public announcements about their plans for TinEye. Branding the service as ‘Google for images’ is perhaps a hint.

Digg currently use Idée’s services to prevent the submission of duplicate images, a concept surely not lost on microstock agencies. Implementing this technology could instantly eliminate almost all duplicate and fraudulent submissions without placing much of an extra load on the review process.

My Photos In Use

Here are some examples of photos from my portfolio which I was able to find using TinEye.

TinEye Example Image TinEye Example Image TinEye Example Image
TinEye Example Image TinEye Example Image TinEye Example Image


Posted May 24th, 2008 by

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