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Tineye.com: something better than Google?

August 19, 2008

At least for artists, anyway.

One of the biggest problems we face, as artists is the ability to keep track of our work online. We post  low-res and we watermark and we hope that people know enough about copyright to keep our work from ending up in the red-light district of the internet, spangled in bad PSP glitter and tottering about in too high heels with a cigarette dangling from its mouth, pimped out by avatar makers and T-shirt sellers alike.

But until recently the technology to prevent that from happening simply didn’t exist. You can google text to look for plagairism, but there was no way to search for an image except to pop in some keywords and cross your fingers. Coming up with no results was a double edged sword. Either no one had taken it… or they hadn’t used keywords.

Lately I’ve been seeing all kinds of proposed technology and demos of software that can search for images based on image recognition software. These have mostly been just talk, however, and one or two that charge for use of their search engines.

Today, my husband ran across one that’s not just an urban legend, and (at least in beta) is free to use for the public. TinEye.com is a new service that does exactly what I wish Google could do: it allows you to search based on the actual image. You either upload your image or you supply the url to an image and then TinEye goes out and finds other instances of that same image on the internet. I ran a search for my Elf Girl painting, one of my most stolen works, and came back with seven or eight different websites that were using the work without permission. Some of them had cropped off my watermark. Most of them had resaved it as a different file name. One of them had turned it into a MySpace background by cropping and adding stuff all over it. TinEye found them within a minute.

Of course the next step is up to me, to follow those links and try and get my work removed, but the hardest part (finding them) is now over.

You do have to sign up for the service, but it’s free. The TOS is very short and reasonable. Since it’s in Beta right now they make it a point to mention that they’re only searching a small portion of the web… what they’ve currently archived is something like 702 million pages. Still I managed to get several hits on all but one of the images I searched, which is still pretty impressive. This is one of the best solutions I’ve seen to the problem of locating infringed images on the web, and if you’re an artist, I highly recommend checking it out for yourself.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. August 19, 2008 11:21 pm

    Love it! Now finding sources for suspicious stuff all over DA easy, as well as looking for my own art. I put in a ton of suggestions to them for the usual art theft suspect sites.

  2. August 21, 2008 6:59 pm

    I’m glad that you like Tineye though I am sorry to hear about so many infringements being found from it. I personally had only limited luck using it due to its small database right now. As it grows, that is going to change.

    If you want any help with those cases, just send me an email, I’ll happily help any way that I can!

  3. July 16, 2009 7:17 pm

    We use TinEye.com to find stolen photos what scammer (especially scammer from dating pages who want cheat men and women in internet contacts) use in profiles and send by mail. So it’s easier to find photos from artists, models or stolen from private internet albums what the scammer use.
    Until now we didn’t find a better program.
    You load up the photo (the title is not important) and TinEye can find the complete photo or a complete photo when you have only a part of it.
    But TinEye find only static photos in pages. Not dynamic loaded photos. But also thrumpnails. Some times TinEye shows also photos what are not existent in the pages anymore.
    But for us it’s the best program now.

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