When it comes to tracking their content online, photographers and other visual artists have always had it a great deal more tough than writers. Though technologies for tracking text plagiarism and reuse are almost as old as the Web, seeking out images has been a completely different matter. However, that has been changing in recent years as several search engines have come online for the express purpose of tracking duplicate images. Though, most notably, this has included Tineye, other search engines, including Google, have gotten in on the act as well. Now, a Firefox extension, Who Stole My Pictures (WSMP), is aiming at making all of those search engines available at one convenient place, your right click menu, thus making it trivial to search for plagiarism of your images or duplicates of any image you find online. But how well does it work? I decided to give it a test to find out. What is Who Stole My Pictures? The extension itself is nothing fancy. It is basically a sub-menu in the browser's right-click menu that lets you quickly search for any image on Yandex.ru, Tineye.com, Google.com, Baidu.com or Cydral.com, each of which have different reverse image search tools. So, all you do is right click the image you want to search for, select "Who Stole My Pictures" and then choose your search engine. All in all, it's a very straightforward extension. While it doesn't do anything to help parse the results or to make it easy to search multiple engines at once (it just links to the regular results pages), it does make performing such searches more convenient. This is especially useful with the foreign-language search engines, which would be difficult for an English speaker to use without the aid of a tool like this. Is "Who Stole My Pictres" Worthwhile? The ideal use case for WSMP is an artist who wants to do the occasional quick search for their work. Artists wanting to check their entire library will likely want to look at other tools. Of course, WSMP isn't just for finding plagiarists of your photos, but can find duplicates of pretty much any photo online, which can make it useful in situations where you know you've seen an image before or you suspect another artist of being a rip off. All in all, if you want to occasionally check an image for duplicates, this can be a powerful extension. But if you want to protect an entire library, you need to look elsewhere. Bottom Line More than anything, WSMP is a sign of just how far the image detection industry has come in the last few years. When Tineye was launched just a few years ago, it was a coup for photographers, even as limited as it was. Today, one has browser extensions that streamline and organize the multiple sources one can check. Though there's still clearly a long way to go for photos to catch up with text in this area, the improvements are more than noticeable in just the time I've been running Plagiarism Today. It is going to be very interesting to see what happens in the next few years.
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