Who Owns This Image? Find Out With PicScout Image Exchange

    Jennifer Farley

    Many designers have found beautiful images through Google that they would just love to use in their designs, but you can’t take any image you want off the web. So how do you find out who owns that gorgeous picture you’ve stumbled across? The answer could lie with PicScout Image Exchange.

    Currently in Beta, Image Exchange helps creative professionals locate the origin and copyright information of images found on the web. It is a free application which runs in Firefox and allows you to:

    • Determine who owns an image whenever and wherever you see that perfect image
    • See all licensing options for images you want to use without searching
    • Connect, license and use an image within minutes of seeing it
    • Discover useful or interesting information about images – ownership and distribution

    To test it out, after installing the plug-in on Firefox, I did an image search for “airplane.” Below you can see the thumbnails results.


    Three of the thumbnails have the small blue “i” icon appearing, indicating that there is ownership information attached to the image. When you click on the “i”, a new window opens up with more information and a link to the website where the image appears.


    The Image Exchange extension can recognize photos anywhere on the web, not just in Google Image Search results. If PicScout believes the photo is CC BY-NC licensed and from Flickr, it will point you to the photo’s original page on Flickr. In the example above it recognized that the image was Royalty Free licensed and included a link to the picture’s origin on a micro stock site.

    It’s early days yet for Image Exchange and the copyright/ownership information is lacking on many of the thumbnails returned in the image search. The extension pulls the information from millions of online images indexed in the PicScout ImageIRC, the world’s largest index of image fingerprints and metadata from known copyright owners. As this database expands this will become a very useful tool.

    If you regularly search the web for new images to use in your design work and would like to be more involved with this project, you can sign up on PicScout’s Image Exchange beta program.