TinEye – the image search engine

Speaking of copyright concerns, I’ve been waiting for this one for several years now, but the wait seems nearly over.

TinEye is an image search engine. It can crawl the net to find similar pictures to the one you feed it, excellent for photographers looking for copyright infringements. Scoundrels beware!

The search engine looks for a variety of similarities across images, and is not easily fooled by skewed, transformed, rotated or altered images! It lists its most likely candidates at the top of the search result, and allows you to compare images by overlaying input and result.

Using the search engine, I found that one of my photographs, this photo of the Eiffel Tower, has been stolen at least 11 times, probably a lot more, as the search engine is in beta, and is still indexing (currently about a billion images indexed). Thefts that include all kinds of wombly wackiness. Funny. I only got 2 comments on that photo page… Good enough to steal, but not good enough to warrant a comment?

As an anecdote, the Eiffel tower is itself copyrighted; it is not allowed to publish any nighttime photographs of it without paying a fee to SETE.

TinEye currently requires a free registration, but I’d recommend any photographer to do so, as there is currently no similar search engine out there. On the page you’ll also find a neat browser plugin that’ll allow you to search any image through TinEye via a simple right-click command.

UPDATE: The CEO of Idée Inc., creators of TinEye, Leila Boujnane, was kind enough to comment both on my Eiffel Tower photo, the photo in the post below, and on this blogpost. Cool, huh? Thank you Leila!

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