In conjunction with Getty Images, Google has announced it will make some changes to make it harder for people to accidentally steal your photographs from its image search results. One of the changes will include the removal of the "View Image" button.
Even photographers who don't have their work stolen are often familiar with situations in which they've seen friends or family take images from the web to promote their own businesses or other commercial endeavors without any thought to copyright. It happens every day. And while ignorance is no excuse for breaking the law, the fact that a large percentage of the general public believes they can simply use any image they find online for any use whatsoever means results in the understatement that a lot of copyright violations happen every day. When it comes to something as difficult as protecting copyright, it's hard to do much as images only become more easily searchable. But Google is finally working with Getty Images to make some changes.
Google will make two major changes as it looks into other tweaks it can make to reduce image theft and misuse. First, it will remove the "View Image" button that brings users directly to the image file online and sits next to the "Visit" button that takes you to the link of the image source. While it takes basic computer knowledge to know how to find the image file online, going that extra step is a much more intentional act of actively seeking to download an image that might be copyrighted (and, needless to say, not your own). Second, Google will make copyright notices more prominent in an effort to make image copyright and ownership more clear to normal users.
The hope is that these changes can greatly reduce the number of accidental image theft done in ignorance from laypeople (such as our own family members) that need to have a photographer in the family explain to them why it's not okay to take any image they like from Google to use on their own websites. And it makes sense that making people take one more step to actually scrape images from the web will likely result in a huge drop of such instances, leaving behind largely purposeful thefts.
These changes aren't coming quite so amicably as it might seem, however. Getty Images has attacked Google both at home and in Europe 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. Additionally, the E.U. has shown a specific distaste for and lack of resistance to exerting its power over some of the largest American technology companies for everything from special tax deals to anti-trust issues.
These changes also come with an announcement of a new partnership between Getty Images and Google that will allow the Internet search company to use Getty's images throughout its product offerings.