Long the antagonist of photographers, Google Images will soon display licensing availability for images that are shown on the web with the proper metadata.
It is worth noting that the animosity photographers have for Google Images comes not just from the existence of a large database of pictures from the web. Google made a set of evolving interface choices over years that made it more and more difficult for users of the images service to get to the original web page. This rendered the offsetting exposure value of putting a picture up on the web largely useless versus the known cost of having the image available for unlicensed use.
That trend started to reverse in 2018, when a settlement between Google and Getty showed the search giant began to recognize the potential liability of taking images, making them as searchable as a stock photo service, and then preventing viewers from conveniently accessing the original web pages from which they came. That settlement made Google agree to not make Getty’s images downloadable without going to Getty’s own site.
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