Checking for visual plagiarism

Hmmm – let’s say that a painting has appeared rather suddenly and the student responsible is not offering a very convincing explanation of where it came from.

There are no preliminary sketches, no notes or discussions in the workbook, and no references to images and/or text sources that might have informed the idea.

In short, I suspect the student has just copied an image from the Internet…is there any way I can upload the painting to an Internet search engine to see if the original version is already out there somewhere?



I uploaded the first image (a student copy of a Picasso), TinEye searched more than 2 million online images and  identified 54 matches. It was unable to find any matches for images 2 and 3, however.

Of course there is nothing wrong with copying providing all sources, image and otherwise, are acknowledged.


What TinEye says about what it does –

“TinEye is a reverse image search engine. You can submit an image to TinEye to find out where it came from, how it is being used, if modified versions of the image exist, or to find higher resolution versions.

TinEye is the first image search engine on the web to use image identification technology rather than keywords, metadata or watermarks. It is free to use for non-commercial searching.

TinEye regularly crawls the web for new images, and we also accept contributions of complete online image collections. To date, TinEye has indexed 1,988,417,886 images from the web to help you find what you’re looking for”.

“Attribution. Image owners want to establish authorship of their work and also know where their images are used. TinEye facilitates both.

TinEye‘s crawlers index the web and continuously add images to the TinEye index. As TinEye‘s index grew, TinEye became the defacto image registry. Every day TinEye answers the “who created that image” question and connects images to their source. TinEye does this without keywords or metadata. Simply use an image to find an image. This is what we like to call the beginning of the attribution movement.

This means that by submitting your images to TinEye, you make it easier for people to find the original author of an image, purchase that image, or attribute it correctly”

  • nanda kathale
    October 11, 2011

    It’s a very informative and important piece of information and will make the task of looking for plagiarism in students work easier. I will definitely make use of the site.Is there any site which will help looking for plagiarism in the written work,
    such as the extended essay in art, for example ?
    Kindly let me know. I am teaching to 11 and 12 grade IBDP students for the first time.
    This workshop is going to be of great value to me.

  • Greg
    October 12, 2011

    Hi Nanda

    Our school subscribes to ‘Turn it in’

    That service has proved very useful for checking originality of Extended Essays and other coursework.



  • Ricardo
    October 19, 2011

    Hi Nanda,

    Our school (The Victoria School – Bogotá, Colombia) suscribes to turn it in.

    I have had just one evident case of plagiarism, actually that was a case of collusion. In that opportunity we had several meetings with the student and his parents and finally we decide to make him repeat the same painting in front of a witness. Obviously the result was clearly different in terms of quality and technical process. That was not the only ocassion this student tried to deceive us, so sadly he was expelled from the school.

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