Google Images is trialing a “Licensable” tag on image results, as a means of helping photographers sell their photos.
As many are aware, this is something Google has been building towards since early 2018, when they began working with Getty Images following the latter’s “anti-competitive” complaints. Since then, Google has removed the "view image" button that allowed users to download high resolution images without having to visit the site on which the image had been found.
Later in 2018, Google went a step further and added metadata to search results, in order to make the copyright holder of that image more identifiable. And next up is the licensing button.
In order to have the licensing option appear alongside your image within a Google Image search, the licensing information needs to be specified on your website.
A link is then provided which guides users to more information about how to license. The feature is still in testing mode and is yet to be rolled out – although anyone who currently owns their own photo website can input the licensing information for their photos through metadata.
PhotoShelter co-founder Grover Sanschagrin wrote:
We’ve been at this for 15 years now, and in that time many of our photographer members have seen little to no value in Google Images. We’ve even received hundreds of requests from photographers looking to block Google Images from seeing their work. From their perspective, Google Images just makes it easier for people to steal their images […] Until now. With the announcement of the new Google Image Licensing program, many of these skeptical photographers are excited about the potential it could bring.
If you’d like to get involved, you can find further information here.
This is good news, especially for independent photographers looking to sell images from their own websites. Google Images has the potential to be a main traffic and revenue source for photographers, assuming they are set up to take advantage of it.