Easy versus Right

Today we learned that Google has come out with Image Search. You input your image and Google finds it on the web. Sounds great–an easy way to find infringing uses of your work. Wonderful! Free! Huzzah!

Except, it really isn’t free. You’ll pay for it, just as you do for all things Google. It’s just not so obvious as getting a bill every month.

Remember, Google is no friend to creatives. In fact, I would go so far as to call it a full-on enemy to creative professionals. The laundry list of its abuses is almost endless: promoting pirated films on YouTube (even those not actually posted on YouTube); the evil book project and its rights-grabbing attempted “settlement”; selling its ads on just about any site out there, including aggregating “blogs” who copy content wholecloth and without permission as well as sites with pirated music or movies; giving money to groups which are against strong creators’ rights (like EFF and PK)… basically, Google doesn’t care what it does as long as it can spin it so that people will think it’s not all about the money while it’s all about the money.

Image Search is another such move. It’ll sell ads and make money off creatives (and regular folk) who use the “service.” It’ll use that money to continue to exploit and fight challenges by creatives who seek to protect their rights. Also, it’ll hurt legitimate businesses who really have photographers’ best interests at heart (like TinEye and others) because it does the ultimate lowball–free.

And just how accurate will the results be anyway? Think about it: Google practically controls search. It has promoted groups who abuse copyright. Do you really trust that it won’t manipulate the results of any Image Search so as to avoid hurting itself or its friends? I don’t. Maybe it’s a bit tinfoil-hat-ish, but having Google say “trust me” makes me immediately suspicious.

Finally, I can’t find how Google will use the images you upload for the search. All I can find is a link referencing its Privacy Policy, but nothing about copyright. That scares the hell out of me.

Sure, it’s easy to use Google. And the idea of being able to search for your images is compelling, especially for free. But is it right to use Google rather than one of the legitimate companies like TinEye or PicScout? I say “no.”

6 Responses to “Easy versus Right”

  1. Brooks Ayola Says:

    If only TinEye worked. The only results I ever find for images that I know are all over the web, are Russian blogs that I don’t care about. When they were new, I went back and forth with them via email asking about the lack of image heavy web sites like Flickr, MySpace (at the time) and they said they were working on indexing those places. I still never find any images I know are on Flickr when I do a search.

    I would love to use TinEye, but it’s really worthless.

  2. info Says:

    Sorry your experience hasn’t been good. I’ve heard of plenty who love it. And PicScout too.

  3. Dabitch Says:

    Tineye has found me 9 out of 10 images I’m looking for (that is, I search for images that I wonder if they have been spread or not, or I’m searching for the root of where the image came from). It brings back everything from news articles to dubious blogs posting using that image. I guess they’re indexed blogger.com now at least.

    Sure, it fails occasionally, and that’s a shame.

  4. Martha Retallick Says:

    Word of warning about Google image searches:

    Some images harbor executable files that can harm your computer. This happened to me a few weeks ago.

    So, be careful of what you download from Google Images, people.

  5. Harvey V. Chua Says:

    Hi Leslie,
    I see that you now sign with the title “Attorney-at-law.” Congratulations!

  6. Douglas Palme Says:

    I use tineye all the time, and have found several images that were stolen, use inappropriately, etc.

    The chance of us using google for this is slim to none.