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Tin Eye for the Image Guy

I’m always on the lookout for new ways to find Public Domain content, so I’m always researching and testing new strategies and tactics. When I find something I like that works well, I tell you about it, and in this post, I want to tell you about one of the new websites I’ve been experimenting with. It’s producing some promising results for locating Public Domain images.

TinEye does for images what Google does for text. Simply put, TinEye helps you find images that are the same or similar to an image you upload or link to on the site by using sophisticated pattern recognition algorithms. TinEye searches for your image on the web by comparing its fingerprint to the fingerprint of every single other image in the TinEye search index, which currently includes around 701 million images.

There are some obvious benefits with this service if you are searching for people who might be infringing on your image copyright, but I’ve been experimenting with ways to use it for parallel searches. What I mean by that is I upload a known Public Domain image at the TinEye website and then see if it shows up on other sites. I figured that it could be a great way to find Public Domain image repositories of which I was previously unaware. Seems to work…grin.

Let me give you an example of the types of results it can produce for you. I recently uploaded a classic Edward Curtis photograph at TinEye. You’ll see it pictured below.


Then, when TinEye finished analyzing the image, it returned results like the ones below.

horse_sample2.jpg horse_sample1.jpg horse_sample3.jpg

You can see that it’s obviously the same image but in a variety of forms. Very cool. Anything interesting trait I found with the searches is that by using similar versions of the same image, you will often achieve different search results. I tried color variations, size variations, etc., and I’m still testing possibilities.

In summary, TinEye is still a new service and they have a ways to go in being viable for the average user The site does have a LOT of potential, especially once they increase their image database, which is currently kind of small (even at nearly a billion images). So I plan to continue to experiment with it to see what’s possible to discover with it in the Public Domain.


2 Responses to “Tin Eye for the Image Guy”

  • John:

    Thanks Tony,

    FYI. Your site takes us to timeye and not tineye.

    Thanks for the great info.


  • Hi Tony,

    As an advocator of using public domain material to produce modern creative works I was very pleased to read this post.
    However I wish to add to John’s reply that your link takes us to timeye and not tineye.
    I imagine that you intended to link your readers directly to

    Great post though, keep up the good work,

    Dave Robus.

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