Millions of people upload billions of pictures to the internet every day.  According to KPCB Internet Trends 2013, there are 500 million+ photos are uploaded and shared per day. The author, Cooper Smith writing to Business Insider says that “Facebook users are uploading 350 million photos each day.”
Along with this, stealing images on the internet has become very easy and the trend has gone up significantly over the last few years. People just grab images from the internet and use them on their web pages, without even providing proper credit to its author. I found that some web development companies build websites using copyrighted images from the internet and sell websites to their clients hiding the fact that images are copyrighted.
Last week, I came across some Sri Lankan travel websites that have been using my images without prior permission.  First, I complained to particular web admins and then I complained to their particular web hosting companies on the issue. After some effort, one website owner ended up purchasing an image license while others ended up removing my image from their website.  After that success story, I decided to write about it.
Do you think that your photos are not stolen? The fact is that you never know until you do a research and find out. In order to find such web pages, the best tool that you can use is Google Images.  When you load on your web browser, you will see the following image search page presented to you.

Here, you can search for images using regular text queries, but, it is not what we are looking for.  The camera icon highlighted in the screenshot is the hidden gem that we are looking for.

When you click on the camera icon, you will see a page similar to the following screenshot with two options/methods for you to search for images.

Here, you can search for images by using image URLs and by uploading images from your computer.
To search an image using an URL, what you have to do is, first, go to a webpage that contains the image that you want to search for; second, load the image; third, right-click (Ctrl + Click on Mac computers) on the image and select “Copy Image Location” option on the pop-up window that appears; finally, go to Google images page and paste the URL and hit “Search by Image” button.  In seconds, you will see search results with every webpage that the searched image has been published in.
To search an image by uploading from your computer, first, click on the “Upload an Image” tab on the Google Images page; second, click on “Browse” button and locate the image on your computer; finally, click on the image and hit “Open” (or, double click on the image).  Google will upload the image and start searching automatically.  You will see the results in seconds.
What Google does here is that it takes an image and analyses it using colors, textures, patterns, and other prominent shapes. Then, Google matches that data with images found in its database and returns you search results.
Go through the search results and see if you can identify web pages that publishes your image. If you did not publish your image on a website that appears in the results, chances are, you found a photo thief.
Now that you found photo thieves, what kind of actions can you take against them?  I will discuss that with my next blog post.  Look forward to that.

Sources: Internet Trends Report by Kleiner Perkins Caufield Byers,;  Cooper Smith, Business Insider: Tech,