Google Adds Reverse Image Search

For photographers familiar with TinEye’s reverse image search engine, Google’s announcement today of a new reverse image search engine should be welcome news. For the past few years TinEye has allowed photographers to upload images to their site, which will then search for where else those images have been published to the web. Several photographers that I know have used TinEye to find copyright infringement cases and have been able to generate compensation or settlements out of the infringing use.

TinEye is pretty good, but does miss a lot of the images on the web. With search behemoth Google putting it’s weight behind this sort of tech, I’m interested to see how much better it might be than TinEye.

Apparently the new feature will be rolled out to Google Chrome users this week. You’ll know you have it when you see a camera icon on the Google Image Search page.

Using the new feature looks pretty easy. You can just drag a photo from your desktop to your search bar and go look for it. You can also use an upload or a url from another image already on the web.

Personally I think it’s exciting to see Google get into this type of innovation. But really this is just the beginning of what could theoretically be possible with a service like this.

I’d love to see Google/Flickr/Yahoo/TinEye take this tech even further. It would be great if you could, for instance, use the Flickr API to attach your Flickrstream to this search engine and have it analyze your entire stream and look for infringing use automatically. It would also be nice if there was a way that you could then filter these search results by certain criteria (say U.S. websites) in order to better identify copyright infringement and potential targets worthwhile to potentially pursue.

It would also be cool to see an RSS sort of option to monitor all of your images that could report back to you when new appearances on the web show up for the first time in image search engines.

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  1. Isn’t it possible to create a simple macro that catches Google images (with option latest or past 24 hrs)?

    However, I have FB images on my site ( and, as they come from a FB domain, not mine… Google even won’t list them.

    Dominik Bjegović

  2. Thomas Hawk says:

    Dominik, maybe, but if each image has to be its own query and you have to manually search for say 58,000 images on flickr in the last 24 hours, this doesn’t become very doable. I wonder if technology can create a better way?

  3. SteelToad says:

    Is there any word, with this new development, if Google will finally start indexing EXIF information. I already tag all of my images with a unique tag that’s not likely to show up in random text. With EXIF indexing, I should be able to set up a google alert for my tag and be notified whenever it is used. (provided exif isnt stripped of course)

  4. […] photographes comme Thomas Hawk (Google Adds Reverse Image Search) voient avant tout dans cette fonctionnalité la possibilité de pouvoir recourir de […]

  5. Mark J P says:

    It’s great tech but I agree that combining it with your Flickr, 500px, PurePhoto, SmugMug streams for automatic monitoring is where this functionality becomes really powerful!

  6. Rob says:

    Absolutely! I have used TinyEye but it has missed ones I know exist. Same with ImageRights. PLease, someone one turn this into what TH mentioned!

  7. Tim says:

    I think the copyright lawyers are drooling as I read. Don’t get me wrong I completely agree with copyrights and give all the credit to the artist and everything that goes along with that. I have yest to find my photos or graphics used else where. Probably not good enough to steal but my point is I can see this running wild and the lawyers making out.

  8. jim says:

    Google fights and keeps winning the ability to infringe on all types of (previously) protected property of others, including copyrights and trademarks. Now it decides to go into yet another company’s business, to protect against copyright infrigement.

    Google is the largest infringer of copyrighted materials the world has ever seen.

    Bing, you’re looking better every day.

  9. Anna Nguyen says:


  10. Marika says:
    Give it a try. it’s on alpha stage but seems to work on the image subjects. The others engine ( google too ) seems works only with colour.

  11. Anonymous says:

    One thing they forgot to mention. PEOPLE. You can search people and everything will come up that there taged in! Talk about invasion of privacy.