Yes, that's how I really feel about TinEye. But what is it?
TinEye is a search engine. For images. Based on their unique pixel "fingerprint" and not metadata or watermarks or any of the usual means of tracking a photo. Oh, did I mention that it takes into account crops, changes in size, stuff like that? ARE YOU WHOOPING AND HOLLERING YET?!?!?!?!?!?
Well, maybe not at first. Lots of us are and let me give you a couple of reasons why.
Currently in the US there is something called the Orphan Works legislation (OWL) that, simply stated, will allow someone to use an image without the creator's permission if the creator can't be found by a "diligent search". What THAT is currently isn't clear. But TinEye's image identification technology could link up the prospective user and creator, allowing a legal and properly credited (better yet paid) useage of that image.
Another use would be that of a stock image company looking for images they represent being used after being obtained by a publication. A current use for TinEye's technology scans numerous publications and compares those images (some even placed into collages or greatly altered) to those listed in a database. Monthly reports can show you where your client's images are, allowing more efficient invoicing on their behalf.
Here's an image of a very famous A-1 Skyraider photographed by my father Frank O'Rear that was part of the first Air Force Medal of Honor mission flown in the Vietnam conflict. TinEye found it and with great joy, it is exactly where it is supposed to be and nowhere else.
Multiple upon multiple other uses but these are, for obvious reasons, the ones that excite me the most. There's even a cool Firefox plug-in that will let you right-click an image and search the TinEye database. For more information on TinEye jump on over to their website here. Watch the short video and prepare to go "cool".