It’s become an accepted idea today that people are going to steal your images online. There are too many blogs, publications, magazines, and websites with iffy ethics and/or amateurs running the show. As photographers, we’re generally supposed to just deal with this, keep shooting, and take it as an occupational hazard. What if that wasn’t the case? What if there was a way to track down your images and get some compensation for work you created?
While image search services have been around for ten years or more, the technology is only now getting good. More accurate search technology and a pricing structure that is suddenly affordable have expanded who can (and should) use these services. We’ve got two for you to take a look at:
Tineye is a reverse image search service that searches the web for any and all uses of your images. To use Tineye, you upload your image to the site and they create a “fingerprint” of the image to search the web with. They have an web index of over 1 billion images which they search to find the uses of your images.
It will return a list of results showing you where the image is being used online. If you don’t want to upload your images, you can put in the exact web address of where your image is housed online and it will use that to search. It will detect images that have been cropped or manipulated as well.
The service is free for noncommercial use, which gets you 50 searches a day or 150 a week. If you need more than that, you will have to purchase in prepaid bundles of 5,000 searches for $300 or 30,000 searches for $1500. Once you get the results, it's up to you to take action.
My own personal experience with Tineye has been hit or miss. Sometimes, I will find that it turns up great results and, other times, I will search for images that I know exist in multiple places and receive no results. It’s free to try so there’s no harm in giving it a spin.
Image Rights is a proactive image monitoring service, as opposed to a reactive service (like Tineye, meaning you search yourself). You can upload up to 1,000 images for free and ImageRights will search the internet for unauthorized use of your images. ImageRights emails reports when they find image use and it’s on you to decide the next move. You can ignore the notice, take action yourself, or hand it off to ImageRights, who will then take legal action for you. They’ll split whatever they get 50/50 with you, which isn’t bad considering they pay the legal fees.
A pro membership costs $295 a year and protects 10,000 images while a premier account protects 50,000 images for $995 a year. The benefit of the paid memberships is that they give a bigger split—a pro membership will give you 55% and a premier membership will give you 60%.