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Google Changes Image Search Making it Difficult to Steal Photos

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Google has announced that it’s going to be making some changes to the way that people use Google image search.  More specifically, they are trying to make it more difficult for people to “accidentally” steal your photos from their image search.  The big change will include the removal of the “view image” button.  This brings a user directly to the image file online.  So you can go directly to the website where the image is located.  But I would argue that this could minimize images from getting stolen.  If you click on the “view image” button, you can typically see where the photo originated.  I use this as a way to determine if I’m stealing an image accidentally.  Or is it just me?

The second change is that Google is going to make copyright notices more prominent in an effort for people to understand what they can and can’t use.  In my opinion, this is where they really need to focus their efforts.  Sure, it’s easy to blame the person who has stolen the image, but it’s not always their fault.  No, I’m not defending based on ignorance, but if you don’t know that the image is copyrighted in the first place, how do you know that you can’t use it?  It’s cases like this that I think Google needs to take some responsibility.  We are very quick to blame users – and in some cases that’s fair, but we also have to look at the systems/platforms that exist in the first place.

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I’m not being critical of Google.  In fact, I think that this is a good move, but I’m concerned that they haven’t done enough in this until now.  In other words, why has this taken so long?  In fact, Getty Images has attacked Google (in Europe and the US) for how easy it makes downloading images.  While the law in the U.S. is fairly clear about how images may be hosted and displayed by third parties, public opinion has begun to shift as the law might need to and often has to adapt accordingly to new technologies.

What’s interesting though, is that Getty is going to be part of the change.  I say interesting, but I think that’s what happens.  When you complain about a system or a product or something enough, the developers of said system are going to say – ok, help us fix it.  Getty had the following to say about the agreement:

“This agreement between Getty Images and Google sets the stage for a very productive, collaborative relationship between our companies.  We will license our market-leading content to Google, working closely with them to improve attribution of our contributors’ work and thereby growing the ecosystem.”

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Getty sent a separate message to members of their iStock photo service where they said:

“Moving forward, Google has agreed to make changes in Image Search, including making the copyright disclaimer more prominent and removing the view image button. In addition, we’re announcing that Getty Images and Google have embarked on a global strategic partnership that will see deeper integration of Getty Images’ world class imagery across Google’s suite of products and services.”

This sounds like a win-win, but it will be interesting to see how prominent the copyright information will be on Google’s image search page.  I definitely think that companies like Google and Getty need to work together in a better fashion moving forward in order to get some things accomplished.  There are typically problems on both sides, but in this case, it was Google that needed to step up to the plate.

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