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Let’s face it, image theft is rampant, and easy. Every professional photographer or visual artist on the net knows that much. With the number of websites in the world it is impossible to scour each of them everyday looking for someone stealing your work. Most of the answers to this issue lie in the realm of spending a lot of money to hire a company to keep an eye on things for you. Even that has flaws though as something always falls through the cracks.

It’s 5:30am here, and I’m awake fearing for my precious images’ well-being. That’s not really why I’m awake, but I am spending this fluke of free time today looking at something you need to know about. Tin Eye, and people if this thing delivers like it promises, well let’s just say that a career in IP law will be a very busy field soon.

The technology is still in beta right now, and the database is limited to about 900 million images. Obviously though – and this is the important part – the technology is here to find thefts of your work. I don’t know how it works, but it allows you to search the internet for your images, or altered versions of them. It is extremely easy to use, and at the moment it is totally free. Hopefully they will keep it that way. I imagine that a certain massive corporation will buy up the technology soon *cough* google *cough* and if they do I think the possibility of this being a free service is much greater.

I think beta signups are still open, so if you can you need to go check it out. I’ll keep playing with it, and let you know if I find a downside to this technology. I have to say though, unless they decide to charge hundreds of dollars to use it, I don’t see a downside coming.

*UPDATE – 10:57am*

So far I’ve tried to find most of the images that I have scattered around the web. No stellar results. I could view that as a good thing because that means it didn’t find anything stolen. It means something more important though. TinEye needs to update the database and crawl more websites. I understand that it must be very difficult to build something like they have. Fact is, it needs to evolve. 900million is an astronomical number of images for sure, but it doesn’t scratch the surface of the images on the web.

My stance is still one of hope, because the technology is fantastic, and the fact that I couldn’t find anything of mine doesn’t mean much in the grand scheme of things.

My suggestion… crawl flickr, catalog their images. Then approach google and either work with them, or sell the technology. It has a ton of potential, but the database needs to get much much bigger before it’s a viable option for lesser known images and orphaned works to be found and identified.