Due to the social nature of the web and an ever increasing number of blogs and websites, it has never been easier for someone to use your personal photos or newly created pictures online without first seeking your permission. This is one of the unfortunate things that happens when you bring a lot of people to an online destination with no visible force policing the use of images online.
Fortunately though there are a few ways to tell who is using your photos online. This will by no means catch every single instance of someone using your pictures without permission due to the massive size of the web, but it will help you keep better tabs on where others are posting them.
The first method to uncover use of your image is to use Google’s “Search by Image” feature. This will actually allow you to do a reverse image search through the Google Images site. Once you have navigated to that webpage you will need to click on the small camera icon that appears in the search bar. This will allow you to upload your picture directly. Otherwise you can also enter the URL of your image and click on the “Search” button. On a side note, to find the URL of your image just right-click on it and then use the “copy URL” option. After clicking “Search”, your results will now show up with any images that appear to be the same as your image or very close in nature to your original photo. You can then click on the thumbnails to navigate to each website where your images are found. A similar website you can perform this same method on is Tineye.com.
The second method is one that will actually help you legally go after others who are using your images fraudulently without your written permission. ImageRights is actually a firm that you can hire to find out who is using your images online. They will then legally go after those individuals in hopes of getting rightful compensation from those illegally using your photos. This service is probably best for professional photographers due to the pricing, but it does have a free option that comes with a service fee for each recovery case.
The last method will only work under certain circumstances, but it will help you identify who is using your images and giving you credit at the same time. For this method, you will need to have some form of analytics on your hosted website that allows you to see referring websites and URL’s. You can then take a look at what websites are referring visitors to your site and see if they are using your images by manually navigating to them. Some image hosting sites will actually take care of tracking for you to a certain degree including Flickr, Picasa and Photobucket.
So using anyone of these three methods should allow you to find out if any larger websites are using your photos or images. Again this won’t help you find every single case of someone using your pictures, but it will help you discover several new instances that you may not have been aware of.