If you woke up this morning and were confused by Google Images' sudden lack of ‘View Image' button, then you weren't alone. So far, critics have complained that the move is unfriendly to users and has degraded Google's image search functionality. Those statements might be true, but what was Google's reasoning? Well it turns out that the ‘View Image' button had to be removed as part of a legal settlement between the search giant and Getty Images.
Google tends to catch a lot of flack from copyright holders, not just in the music, TV or movie industries, but also when it comes to photographers and image licensing companies. Getty Images has been dragging Google through a legal dispute in recent years, claiming that Google Images makes it too easy for people to download, distribute and use images without the proper license to do so. As part of Google's settlement with Getty Images, the ‘View Image' button on Google search has been removed.
Image Credit: Google.
In a statement, Google has said that the change was “designed to strike a balance between serving user needs and publisher concerns”. Getty Images filed its complaint against Google with the European Union back in 2016, claiming that Google Images promoted piracy of licensed photos. The ‘View Image' button in particular made it so that users did not even have to visit the source website for images.
As part of the settlement, Google now has a multi-year license to use Getty's images in its own products, but several changes had to be made. For starters, the View Image button had to be removed, but Google also needs to ensure that in the future, copyright attribution is more noticeable when using Image Search. The ‘search by image' button is also gone now, though you can still reverse search for an image via the Google search bar for the time being.
KitGuru Says: I was quite confused when the ‘View Image' button disappeared this morning, but I had a feeling that it would be down to something copyright related. Ultimately, this decision makes sense, as it became too easy to ignore copyright information for individual images and then use those images elsewhere.