Google Search has effectively put the world’s information at our fingertips. It is, however, a two-edged sword that may have also made it too easy for people to circumvent certain laws, particularly copyrights and trademarks. Google has always come under fire for that but things came to a head when stock photography website Getty Images lodged a complaint against it in Europe, where Google has a track record of losing. Last week, the two reached a settlement that will see Google change some things in its image search. That starts now with its removal of the “View Image” button in image search results.
It’s a subtle change for a small button that could have a tremendous impact on users more than Google. The View Image button gave users the convenience of seeing the image by itself, without having to go to its source website, and even download the image. It has, however, been a huge headache for owners of those images or at least those who have the rights to them.
Getty’s complaint stems from how Google has made it too easy to lift material without attribution. That is factually true since View Image doesn’t exactly inform users of any copyright or licensing requirements. But there is another aspect to its beef with Google. By delivering the image instantly, users no longer have to go to the source website, which deprives them of page hits and ad revenue from visits.
So now Google is removing that button and, therefore, making it harder for users to immediately save an image. You will, of course, still be able to do so, whether you visit the original website or not. And, of course, Google and Getty would prefer that you did.
Google is also removing Search by Image, which could be used/abused to search for similar images without watermarks. Reverse image search still works, though, by dragging an image to the search bar, but you’ll still run into the same limitations.