What is Reverse Video Search? And how does it work? Detailed Guide.

Imagine this: You have spent hours working on producing a video for your blog or YouTube channel. A couple of days later, you find someone copying your video and republishing it on his website or video channel; giving no credit back to you! How would you feel? Angry and frustrated. Right? This is called video plagiarism…and it is a reality. But what if you do not know whether or not someone has copied your video? Or maybe you are just unsure? That’s where the term Reverse Video Search comes into the picture. Reverse searching a video helps you find out the video source; more particularly the places on the internet where your videos are being re-used. In this post today, I will share some tips to help you perform a reverse video search and find out who is using your videos…

What is Reverse Video Search? Understanding the basics

video reverse search - illustration

Reverse searching a video is a process by which a search engine uses the colors and pixels present in a video to find out the locations on the web where an exact copy of the video appears. Technically, the process is the same as Reverse Image Search. A search engine like Google has a vast database which it keeps updating by crawling and indexing fresh content, as and when it appears on the web. So, if someone has copied your video and republished it on his blog or website, there is a good chance that Google will find it. When you do a reverse search for your video on Google, it will match it color-by-color and pixel-by-pixel to find out the best close matches in its database. That’s how it works!

When is your video most likely to be plagiarized?

When it comes to plagiarism, images are more vulnerable to videos. Why? Most of the people don’t care about putting watermarks and for the copycats it’s much easier to go ahead and download a picture than downloading and uploading a large video file! Still, videos can be plagiarized, and these chances increase even further when:

  • Videos are short in duration. Short duration = less size = easy to download/upload
  • You do not appear personally in videos. For example: doing a product review without showing your face
  • You post videos without a watermark

So, if you want to make your videos less susceptible to plagiarism, work on the above points! Anyway, let’s now discuss various methods to help you reverse search a video easily…

Can we have a Reverse Video Search Engine?

Many people might ask: If there is a reverse search engine for images, why can’t it be there for videos as well? Well, that’s technically possible but might not be feasible right now. A reverse search engine for videos will need to index all the videos on the internet. And this job simply doesn’t end here. The search engine will also have to index each and every frame inside those videos and keep those in its search database. Considering a frame rate of 30 frames/second, a 2-minute video will have 30*120=3600 frames. This means for a single 2-minute video, the search engine will have to store 3600 frames in its database!

So, when someone uploads a video for reverse search, the search engine will begin comparing each and every frame of the video with those already stored in its index. If the frames match, the search engine will show the list of videos with exactly matched content. This sounds easy; but with millions of videos being uploaded daily, imagine the immense amount of storage space and computing power that might be required!

Methods to do a reverse video search:

Since there is no search engine that directly processes video reverse search queries, we will have to explore other ways or tricks to do a reverse search for videos. And the trick is: Reverse Image Search. That is, when we use screenshots from a video file, and perform a reverse image search on them, the search engines most of the time are able to find out the exact video source from which the screenshot was taken. We can easily do a reverse search on videos using the following methods:

1.) Google Reverse Image Search

Step 1.) Open up your video file and take a screenshot of any part of your video (prefer taking image grabs from the beginning). Also, make sure the screenshot has a clearly visible face/object. For example, I took this screenshot of Katy Perry’s music video – ‘Firework’ from YouTube.

Step 2.) Go to Google Images. Click on that little camera icon on the right side of the search bar. Upload your screenshot! That’s it.

reverse search results - Google

Google will now show you the most accurate reverse search results for your video.

2.) Try Yandex Images

Yandex (a Russian search engine) is a potential alternative to Google. Yandex reverse image search capabilities are even stronger when it comes to detecting faces and objects. So, if you have a video where you are in front of the camera, Yandex might deliver better reverse search results than Google. Here is how to do this:

Step 1.) Take a screenshot from your video (just like how we did it with Google Images). This time, I’ve taken a screenshot from Ellen Show where she is interviewing Bill Gates.

Step 2.) Visit Yandex Images website and click on the little camera icon inside the search bar.

camera icon in yandex images search

Step 3.) Upload your screenshot and hit enter. All the reverse video search results will be there right in front of you. And… Don’t be shocked if they are so brilliantly accurate!

yandex reverse video search results

3.) Tineye

Tineye is another smart reverse image search tool. If you are not getting the desired results with either Google or Yandex, try Tineye! Like any other search engine, Tineye keeps on crawling the web and indexes new images as and when they appear online. As on date, Tineye has 44.3 billion images in its Index!

The process to do a reverse video search on Tineye however remains the same:

Step 1.) Take a screenshot from your video file.

Step 2.) Go to Tineye and either upload or paste your image URL. That’s it.

4.) Berify

Berify seems another promising reverse image search engine. What’s unique about Berify is that besides being able to do a reverse search for images, it claims that it can do reverse search for videos as well! So, I decided to verify this claim from Berify and signed up for a free account. With a free account, it lets you check up to 5 images per month.

This time, I took a screenshot from even deeper of the music video – Firework by Katy Perry.

Screenshot from Katy Perry video

I then uploaded this screenshot into Berify’s reverse search engine. It took almost 2 minutes for Berify to search for exactly the same/visually similar images. And… these were the results:

Berify Reverse Search Results

I was impressed that it was able to return reverse video search results based on screenshots taken from deep inside that video! Google failed at this. But Berify excelled.

Your thoughts and feedback?

I hope you were able to do a reverse search on your videos easily using these methods. What’s your feedback? I would love to listen. Please share your thoughts in the comments below.

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Abhishek Raj

Abhishek Raj is the Founder of Budding Geek. He is an inveterate blogger with a decade of experience in the internet technology & online marketing industry. Abhishek takes pride in being featured in some of the top industry websites like Marketing Land, Social Media Today, LifeHacker & ProBlogger. Learn more about Abhishek

7 thoughts on “What is Reverse Video Search? And how does it work? Detailed Guide.”

    • Play the video, hit pause and use any screenshot app on your computer to take the screenshot of that particular video frame. You can repeat this for other video frames as well. Once you’ve got 2-3 screenshots, you can do a reverse video search using the tips that I’ve mentioned in the post above.

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