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Tineye Logo.svg
Web address tineye.com
Commercial? yes
Type of site Image Search Engine
Registration optional
Available in multilingual
Owner Idée, Inc.
Alexa rank negative increase 2,644 (April 2014)[1]
Current status active

TinEye is a reverse image search engine developed and offered by Idée, Inc., a company based in Toronto, Canada.


Idée, Inc. was founded by Leila Boujnane and Paul Bloore in 1999. Idée launched the service on May 6, 2008 and went into open beta in August that year.[2][3] While computer vision and image identification research projects began as early as the 1980s,[4] the company claims that TinEye is the first web-based image search engine to use image identification technology. The service was created with copyright owners and brand marketers as the intended user base, to look up unauthorized use and track where the brands are showing up respectively. [5]

In June 2014, TinEye claimed to have indexed more than five billion images for comparisons.[6] However, this is a relatively small proportion of the total number of images available on the World Wide Web.[7]


A user uploads an image to the search engine (the upload size is limited to 20 MB) or provides a URL for an image or for a page containing the image. The search engine will look up other usage of the image in the internet, including modified images based upon that image, and report the date and time at which they were posted. TinEye does not recognize outlines of objects or perform facial recognition, but recognises the entire image, and some altered versions of that image. This includes smaller, larger, and cropped versions of the image. TinEye has shown itself capable of retrieving different images from its database of the same subject, such as famous landmarks.[8]

TinEye is capable of searching for images in JPEG, GIF, or PNG format. As of 2009, other formats that contain images online, such as Adobe Flash, are not searchable.[9]

Results generated from TinEye include: the total number of matches in their database that the submitted image has generated, a preview image and URL to each match, as well as a function called Compare Images. Compare Images will bring up a window where the user can switch back and forth between the original image and the search result.[10] TinEye can sort results by best match, worst match, biggest image, or smallest image.

User registration is optional, and offers storage of the user's previous queries. Other features include embeddable widgets and bookmarklets. TinEye has also released their commercial API.


TinEye's ability to search the web for specific images (and modifications of those images) makes it a potential tool for the copyright holders of visual works to locate infringements on their copyright. It also creates a possible avenue for people who are looking to make use of imagery under orphan works to find the copyright holders of that imagery. Being that orphan works can be defined as "copyrighted works whose owners are difficult or impossible to identify and/or locate,"[11] the use of TinEye could potentially remove the orphan work status from online images that can be found in its database.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Tineye.com Site Info". Alexa Internet. Retrieved 2014-04-01. 
  2. ^ "Releases". Tineye.com. Retrieved 2013-02-21. 
  3. ^ Claburn, Thomas (18 August 2008). "TinEye Image Search Finds Copyright Infringers". InformationWeek. Retrieved 28 September 2014. 
  4. ^ Szeliski, Richard (2010). Computer Vision: Algorithms and Applications. Springer Publishing. p. 832. ISBN 9781848829343. 
  5. ^ George-Cosh, David (n.d.). "Idée's TinEye next frontier in Web searches" (PDF). National Post. Retrieved 2010-02-11. 
  6. ^ "Retrieved 2014-07-01". Tineye.com. Retrieved 2014-07-01. 
  7. ^ "Flickr hosts 5bn images as at Sep 10 – Retrieved 2011-04-06". Royal.pingdom.com. Retrieved 2013-02-21. 
  8. ^ Elias, Jean-Claude. (2009, December 11). Search by photo. The Jordan Times. Retrieved on 2/19/10 from Factiva database.
  9. ^ Krechevsky, Curtis. (2009, May 1). The challenges of logo and image searches on the internet. IP Law and Business. 7(5). Retrieved on 2/19/10 from Factiva database.
  10. ^ January 18, 2010 (2010-01-18). "Become An Online Image Detective With TinEye". Groovypost.com. Retrieved 2013-06-25. 
  11. ^ Yeh, B. (2010, February 1). "Orphan works" in copyright law. Congressional Research Service. Retrieved on 2/19/10 from Factiva database.

External links[edit]