Some of the most entertaining clips I ever watched are usually the ones I can’t find anywhere anymore, and I’m sure the same has happened to you on more than one occasion.
Imagine if you could search for clips as if you were searching for song lyrics, documents, or websites by keywords. That’s precisely what reverse video search is.
In this article, I’ll explain how reverse video searching works, some of its most popular use cases, and the tools you can use to do it effortlessly. Lastly, I’ll give my two cents on the best reverse video search programs in the current market has to offer.
Without any further ado, let me first describe what this technology is and isn’t.
What Is a Reverse Video Search?
Reverse Video Search or “RVS” is a cutting-edge technology that enables you to find exact matches or very similar clips to the one you’re looking for.
It should not be confused with “reverse video” tech, which essentially inverts colors of text & background content in provided image or video; it’s usually used to beautify or make certain content more visible (e.g. the “Matrix” black and green screen, the colors are inverted and the main section of the content becomes much easier on the eyes).
Reverse Video Search technology uses pixels of the uploaded content to determine the exact level of similarity between the provided image or clip and anything else on the web that could be similar to it.
Reverse Video Search Use Cases
The sky is the limit regarding potential use cases for reverse video search technology. Everything from helping law enforcement track down suspects in criminal investigations, to helping businesses monitor their brand’s online presence, to aiding researchers in finding new data sources can be accomplished by leveraging the power of reverse video search.
Let me list a few situations in which RVS could be very valuable to you:
- Journalism – journalists and reporters can quickly find footage, recordings, and clip-based interviews about the topic they’re covering.
- Content creation – just like you’d use Copyscape to check if anyone was using the same words in an article you are writing, you can use RVS technology to see if there are clips on the web similar to the one you’re making.
- Branding and Marketing – if you’re a business owner, you don’t have to wait for days to see if anyone had similar marketing ideas. Use RVS tools to scan the web for similar clips and videos.
- Copyright and Intellectual Property Protection – if you ever wondered if someone is using your copyrighted content without asking, let alone paying you, reverse video searching is one of the best ways to find the culprit.
- Finding Blacklisted/Banned Videos – certain videos and clips are not available in all countries. However, it’s safe to rely on human persistence and people that are reuploading banned or blacklisted clips elsewhere. If you ever wanted to find a video that may not be available in your country via “traditional” streams, you can use reverse video searching tools.
- Finding Original Videos – there are cases when original clips don’t get the same number of likes, shares, and views as duplicates, especially if the original is years or decades old. With reverse video searching tech, you can find original videos if you use the duplicate as a reference.
- Police and Investigative Work – similar to banned content, police officers and investigators can use RVS tools to search for potential clues about people or cases caught on video. There’s a hitch – a similar video must be uploaded for comparison. It’s an excellent way to discover photos and videos that police specifically instructed certain individuals to remove from the internet.
- Discover New Content – in the age of heavy-duty consumerism, people can’t get enough content to sate their needs for unending entertainment. Reverse video searching does not always work as intended, and you’ll often find things you weren’t looking for, which can be quite a fun experience.
How Does a Reverse Video Search Work?
Reverse video search tools need a “base” image to work with. This can be a high-quality image, or something as simple as a screenshot. After uploading this image, RVS tools will scan the web for pictures and videos that contain the same pixels. Colors, pixel position, and pixel number play the most important roles, although I’m sure more advanced RVS tools cover additional parameters.
In a nutshell, the program is comparing an image to another image, but you will also receive information about videos that contain these pictures (or better said, pixels).
The accuracy of reverse video searching tools is never guaranteed. Not only do videos contain thousands of pixels, but millions of videos are uploaded each day to YouTube alone; you can only imagine how many clips come to the web daily.
Another problem with the accuracy of RVS tools is that many clips are altered in one way or another. Editing a clip with effects, cutting frames, or doing anything that would alienate it from the original will hinder the program’s capability to recognize it as similar content.
If all you have is a low-quality image to work off, you MAY have success using an AI image upscaler to improve the quality of the image and thus potentially improve your RVS results.
5 Ways to Do a Reverse Video Search
The simplest way to conduct a reverse video search is to use one of the programs that support this technology.
All of the programs I’m about to list are reverse image search apps that feature RVS functionalities. And now, let’s dive deeper into how reverse video search can be done.
1. Google Images
Google was among the first to deploy RIS (reverse image search); you may be surprised to hear that it existed for more than a decade.
Google’s search engines are remarkably sophisticated and boast a superior level of accuracy when it comes to locating pretty much anything as long as you know what you’re searching for. Its RVS algorithm will scan millions of files and is more than likely to find you the clip that you’re after.
It’s also remarkably quick, too. Unless you are looking for a generic video that has thousands of duplicates on the web, the search results should be delivered to you in mere seconds. Google Image’s (which uses Google Lens) reverse video search tool is free and easily accessible on both desktop and mobile devices, although the latter is a bit clunky still. As for how you can use this RVS tool, just follow these steps:
- Find the URL of the image contained in the video you’re looking for
- Alternatively, snap multiple screenshots; optionally edit the snap so that it doesn’t contain unnecessary details you don’t think are included
- Open Google Images
- Tap the “Camera” found in the “Search” section
- Select “Upload a Picture” and add your image.
- Browse the results
Berify is a simple reverse image & video search tool. According to its creators, it was designed to retrieve stolen clips and photos, although you can use it whichever way you want since it’s free and available to everyone.
This tool uses its proprietary search engine while it draws data from other search engines, such as Yandex, Google, or Bing. Aside from checking for similar content, Berify also searches for similar video thumbnails; this may narrow your search results a little but significantly improves accuracy.
Using Berify is a breeze, although it’s not as simple as reverse-searching videos. You’ll need an account, which is quite simple to set up. Unlike Google Images, you can only conduct five free RVS searches; after that, you’ll need to subscribe to Berify Pro at $5.95 per month.
Berify allows you to upload photos from a variety of websites and supports direct uploads, as well as RSS feeds and URLs. To use Berify, you should follow these steps:
- Set up your free Berify account
- Upload the data you want Berify to compare
- Wait for the process to finish
- Preview the results and pick the clip you want to download
3. TinEye Image Search
TinEye is an advanced image & video search program capable of accurately locating matches to your desired videos. It leverages a variety of sophisticated technology to pinpoint relevant content, including machine learning, neural networks, computer vision, and pattern recognition.
Aside from pictures and videos, you can also search for objects located in images or videos, as well as specific colors. Additionally, its catalog comprises label matching, image tracking, and mobile image recognition.
On the downside, TinEye does not come cheap. You can use this reverse video search tool by subscribing to one of the three plans, including Starter at $200 per month; Basic at $500 per month or Corporate at $1,500 per month. Each plan limits you to a certain number of monthly searches, starting with 1,000 (Starter), 30,000 (Basic), to 150,000 (Corporate).
You can find TinEye’s reverse image & video search tool on its official website; to use it, follow these steps:
- Create a TinEye profile
- Choose your subscription plan
- Upload the video, image, or screenshot
- Fill out the optional parameters (specific domains, collections, websites, etc.)
- Wait for the program to finalize the process
- Grab your videos and pictures
Microsoft Bing is among the most accurate reverse image search tools that features an inbuilt RVS functionality. Its Drag & Drop design makes it remarkably easy to use; you can take a screenshot, and paste URLs or existing images before hitting the “Search” button to find content similar to what you’ve uploaded.
One of the best things about Bing is that it will automatically translate the page to your language, making it extremely convenient for people who aren’t too good with the English language. Furthermore, it’s free and simple to use.
- Go to Microsoft Bing’s Visual Search page
- Use the drag & drop interface to upload your content
- Wait for the process to finish
- Enjoy your videos.
Shutterstock leverages the power of reverse search technology so that you can find more images and videos that match the media you’re searching for.
Let’s say you’re working on a video and need some stock footage that matches the same aesthetic as your current videos. Well, you could use Shutterstock’s RVS tool to search their library for similar clips.
This makes it super easy to find new content that is relevant so that you can continue the process of creating that perfect video.
What separates Shutterstock from its alternatives is its vast media library. Billions of photos, videos, sounds, and their respective fragments exist in this database, and you can access it with a click of a button. Speaking of which, you can use Shutterstock by following these steps:
- Navigate to the Reverse Image Search page
- Select what type of media you want Shutterstock to return and upload your image
- In a few seconds, videos will be available that are similar to the media you uploaded.
What Should You Do If Someone Used Your Video Without Permission?
It depends on the situation. Your videos are your intellectual property, and even if you haven’t put trademarks on them, that doesn’t mean that anyone can use them as they see fit. On the other hand, it’s a free marketing opportunity that you can benefit from if you find the person who is using your videos.
By using RVS tools, you can easily find websites where your clips are being hosted, so it would be easy to find the people who’ve uploaded them. If you are not credited as the creator of said videos, you can ask the person to include links to your website. This can then help not only build your backlink profile but also increase organic traffic to your site.
If cooperation does not bear fruit I would recommend first issuing a takedown notice. For example, if another Shopify store has stolen your content you can issue a DMCA takedown with Shopify directly.
You can also do this with most web hosting providers. If they deem that you are the original creator of said content they will remove the duplicate content themselves.
Alternatively, if a DMCA takedown doesn’t work, it may be worth sending the infringer a cease and desist in the hopes that they just take down the video.
Lastly, if all else fails, seeking professional legal help with this issue is the next step. Preferably from a lawyer that specializes in intellectual property infringement.
Reverse video search tools are amazing. We’ll never have to crawl through hundreds of websites, pages, and clips to find our favorite videos, plus it opens the doors to the opportunity of discovering something new and exciting.
If you aren’t familiar with this technology, I recommend giving Google Images RVS or Berify a shot. It’s free and it works great. Either way, I hope this article helped you understand what RVS is and how it can be used.