A Cre8asite Forums thread has a webmaster I know and trust for a long time reporting that Google Images has become very good at removing those sites who steal his images.
One of the biggest complaints from webmasters back in the day was that when they posted original images on their web sites, Google would display the wrong source of the image and also source many websites that stole the original image.
We actually reported this back in August when we wrote Confirmed: Google Images Better at Sourcing Original. Google confirmed it saying:
We've recently launched an update to the algorithm that looks at the relevance and quality of both the webpage and the image to surface more relevant results in Google Images. Improving the quality of results in Google Images is very important to us, and we're always working hard to improve our algorithms.
But it is really nice to see webmasters noticing and confirming it as well.
I also wonder if one of the ten recent Google updates, specifically the "Retiring a signal in Image search" played a roll also?
EGOL, from Cre8asite forums, wrote:
I have a couple of sites that feature lots of images. Lots of my traffic is a result of these images and lots of people come to my site from the Google image SERPs.
Other people often like these images and place them on their site without permission or attribution. Damn Pirates!
A few months ago if I went to Google image search and queried my keywords I would see my images being displayed from lots of other domains. Today, if I search it seems that google now knows that the images belong to me because they are not being displayed from other domains.
Hat tip to Google for cleaning up the image SERPs and decreasing the traffic incentive for others to use my property without permission. This was essentially cleaning dupe content out of the image SERPs.
Forum discussion at Cre8asite Forums.