After Tineye impressed me with its technology but disappointed me with its database (Note: Tineye has added 200 million more images since the first review was written), I was excited to hear about a new image search company claiming that it could find similar images based upon an upload.
That company, a Japanese organization called Gazopa produced a technology that seemed to be very similar to Tineye at first glance.
However, after using and experimenting with the service, I can safely say that it was not built for this kind of searching and, at this time, it not ready to be used as a means to detect image copyright infringement.
How Gazopa Works
In terms of how one uses Gazopa, it actually works very similar to Tineye. The user either uploads or points the search engine to an image on the Web and Gazopa then searches the Web for similar images.
However, Gazopa does offer two additional options. First, it allows users to search for images based upon a keyword, thus making it more like a traditional image search engine, or via a drawing that the user makes on an electronic whiteboard.
If you upload an image or use a drawing, Gazopa then searches its database of approximately 50 million images (Note: Tineye currently has approximately 900 million) for images that are similar to it. But rather than using fingerprinting to perform the matching, it is based on more vague elements such as shape, color and face.
The concept is interesting and it would seem to have a lot of potential for detecting heavily modified image copying, such as images that were severely cropped or distorted.
However, after experimenting some with the service, it appears that the service is not quite ready for such use, at least not at this time.
Limitations of Gazopa
The problem with Gazopa is that, no matter what I search for, the site does not seem to return exact duplicates of the image or even modifications of it. Rather, it returns images that feel like the original, but actually have little in common.
A good example is what happens when I search for the Layered Tech logo using Gazopa. As you can see in the image below, none of the top results are copies of the logo, though many exist on the Web.
Though Gazopa returned 1000 matches, none of them, at least on the first five pages, were direct copies of the Layered Tech Logo.
However, when I punched the same image into Tineye, I was given much different results. Even though Tineye was only able to pull one result down, it was a perfect match for the original logo.
The result is that, where Gazopa produces far more results per item, most of them are questionable in terms of being a direct match. However, when you consider that Gazopa has a feature to prevent direct matches from appearing in the results, it is clear that isn’t the goal of the service.
At this time, Gazopa does not appear to be well-geared toward detecting image copying. Though I can see a lot of usefulness for the search engine, this doesn’t appear to be one of the better applications.
I would be more fond of this search if I were a designer looking for ideas or wanting to see if there was anything extremely similar, not identical, to a work I had created.
Likewise, with the drawing feature, I might be able to see if an idea I came up with has been done before or how unique a new logo I got really was.
It is a great idea for an image search engine, it just doesn’t fill this one function. Though that may change as the database grows, it is still barely 1/20th the site of Tineye’s limited database, it still seems as if the technology is not well geared toward this kind of use.
There is a lot to be excited about in Gazopa, but unfortunately, this kind of detection is just not what they are good at. There are many other reasons to try it out, but copy detection isn’t one of them.
Overall, I like Gazopa. It has a slick interface, a fast search and seems to return some interesting results. However, it doesn’t meet the needs for myself and others like me who are trying to track how their work is being used on the Web.
Still, I definitely recommend giving Gazopa a try. Not only might it work better for you, but it is just something that is fun to use and to play around with as well as something that can be useful.
It may not be the end all solution to finding copied images on the Web, but it certainly can help in other ways.