I have written before about the wonderful TinEye and how it can be a very useful tool to both trace your own images across the web, and also to find possible conflicting uses when you are looking to use a stock image commercially. Well, now we have Google's new service, Search By Image.
If you use Chrome or Firefox as your browser, when you go to http://images.google.com you should now see a little camera icon in the search box:
If you click on the camera icon you get a popup:
Where you can copy an image url, upload an image or even drag an image!
So I tried it out with one of my older images of Tuareg tribesmen in the Sahara, and clicked 'Search Images'.
Now here we are interested in the image results rather than the text results. If you click on "Find other sizes of this image: All sizes" you get:
If you roll over an image it shows you the website where it was found. The vast majority of these uses are unauthorised.
Also, back on the previous Google results page it shows 'Pages that include matching images'. This shows page after page after page of matches:
A lot of these results are blogs and personal pages, and probably not worth chasing up on copyright infringement (though it would be nice to at least get a credit and link to the original!) but if (among others) the rather fancy looking Montillon Hotel and Resorts:
...cannot produce a valid licensing agreement for this image, they are going to get a big bill for this unauthorised commercial use.
TinEye has been a useful tool for a while, and has indexed 2 billion images, but I would estimate that Google Images has around 10 billion images in their index. It is clear that Google's Search By Image tool is going to be extremely valuable in helping photographers find the companies which are using their images without permission or payment.
If any other photographers have some good examples of how Google's Search By Image has helped them track unauthorised uses of their images by companies, please add them to the comments section below.