There is a relatively new feature in the ever more powerful google search engine that I only became aware of earlier this morning thanks to a forum thread on the Luminous Landscape and a blog post by a fellow photographer – Graham Mitchell. This feature allows you to either upload an image to google or direct google to a link on your website with the chosen image and google will then trawl the web for all instances it finds of the photograph. This new feature allows photographers to scan the web on an image by image basis for unauthorised use of their photographs. Here is how it works:
1 – Go to http://www.google.com and click on the images link in the top left hand corner
2 – Now click the small camera icon in the search bar
3 – Upload a jpeg of one of your photographs or direct google to a link on your website where it can be found and hit search.
Google will now search the internet for all the instances it finds of this (and similar photographs). The search is not perfect or fool proof, but you may well find instances of your photographs on the internet that you had not authorised. I have found several instances after only a few minutes of searching of some of my photography being used by overseas commercial travel companies to promote travel destinations. These are instances of use without my permission or payment and are an infringement of copyright. One of the websites has even had the gall to remove my copyright logo (badly in Photoshop) and replace it with their own. Included below is the result of their photoshop work. I am refraining from linking to their website as I do not want to give them any more ‘google-fu’ power. Suffice to say that they have been contacted regarding the matter.
I am hopeful that google will continue to develop and refine this tool further as it is a great asset to protecting a photographers rights. Of course, its one thing to find an unauthorised use and it is quite another to have it removed or to collect damages.