I suppose I have walked a fine line with the pictures I have used in my blog. As I write I may think to myself, "Hey! A picture of ‘X’ would be good for this post!". I then open up my search engine type a few words in and then I have all the pictures I need. I usually just link to them directly by URL, but now and then I have lifted pictures from sites and uploaded them to my blog. I usually do this when I think the site where the picture is hosted is not going to be around for a long time. I would rather not have dead links so the fix is to grab the picture and upload it directly to the blog. The downside to the latter is that the picture may be copyrighted. I would also rather not run afoul of the copyright police (as well as respect the owners use rights).
This morning while getting my first dose for SlashDot, I ran across this article which points out to a PCPro.uk article on a new search engine that allows users to upload or link to a picture, then the search engines does a "pixel by pixel" search of other pictures on the Internet and displays the results where that picture is also linked or hosted.
The search engine is called TinEye and they claim to be in private beta but I was able to sign up for an account without an invite an start doing searches immediately after confirming my email. The service claims to be able to use cropped and even low res versions of pictures to make the comparisons. I tested the cropped search out by first uploading a full res, full size picture to search on and getting the results. In that case I received 5 matches. I then cropped the picture by cutting off the bottom half and did the search again. In that case I only received 1 hit.
My test may have been out of bounds though because their FAQ states —
"TinEye prefers JPEG, PNG, or GIF images that are about 300 pixels in either dimension. TinEye will willingly accept images that are no less than 100 pixels in either dimension, and no more than 1 megabyte in size"
My original picture was only 80×120 and the cropped version was 80×60. I tested again with a 200×200 picture with similar results. They also state in their FAQ that they are still building up the index which is perfectly understandable. Trying to index all the pictures on the Internet this late in the game is going to take a while.
I am bookmarking this site and will check back frequently as they build up their index. I have several photographer friends I am showing this to who sell digital images on the Internet. This could be valuable to them to protect their digital assets and find out how they are being used. I am going to use it to try to ensure the pictures I use on my blog aren’t violating any usage agreements.