The Internet bursts in outrage over Google’s new image search ‘peace deal’

Getty Images

The world’s leading search engine Google seems to have disappointed it’s users worldwide with some new updates. It was recently announced by the company that it will be removing some of its Image Search’s features. These new changes have made it difficult for users to save an image directly from its image search page, or to search for an image directly.

These changes have been made in accordance with a “peace deal”, which Google recently made with photo library Getty Images.

What is the Peace Deal ?

Well, it happened to be that in 2017, online image library Getty Images complained of Google creating galleries of “high-resolution, copyrighted content,” and of “promoting piracy resulting in widespread copyright infringement.”

The case was further taken to the European Commission by Getty Images, which led to the imposition of a massive fine of €2.42 billion on Google, in June 2017, for “manipulating search results to favor its own shopping services over those offered by competitors”.

Last week, Google announced a new global licensing partnership with Getty Images, which is being called the ‘Peace Deal’ on the internet. Under this deal, Google will be changing some features in its image search to improve attribution of image publishers’ work. It will also make copyright disclaimers stronger.

This peace deal is the result of long discussions between Google, photographers, and image publishers about how the attribution in image search could be made better.

Why did Getty Images complain?

Getty Images is one of the largest online image library that lets photographers and illustrators sell their work to businesses, media, and broadcasters. Getty accused Google of making it easy for people to illegally find and use Getty Images from it’s image search galleries.

Earlier, there was a “view image” button on Google image search, that let a user open and download any individual picture from anywhere on the internet. This received serious criticism from content creators, Illustrators, Artists, and Photographers, who felt that all of their hard work was being openly sold without attribution or permission. Users could find and download images, although in poor quality with watermarks, without actually having to visit Getty Images’ website.

How has Google responded ?

How has Google responded

 Google responded

Well, as you read above, Google has signed a peace treaty with this plethora of creators after a long litany of accusations. Under the treaty, the search engine giant has made some structural changes to its image search page worldwide, by removing some of its features. Among some of the removed features, the most major one is the “view image” button. This means that now users can not directly download an image from Google’s image search page without actually visiting the page where the image was originally published. The ‘search by image’ button that let users easily gain access to larger copies of a picture has also been removed, however, the reverse image search function still exists.

But, it is still easy for users to view and download images. However, these changes have now encouraged users to visit the website the image appears on to download it.
Getty Images has responded by stating this deal as a “significant milestone” but internet critics all over the world have declared the move “a step backwards”. Google said the change would “help connect users and useful websites”. The search engine has even agreed to display image copyright information clearly next to the image search results.

Final Verdict

While the accusations made by Getty and others were completely reasonable, it should not be forgotten that most of the images from private image libraries that were available on Google image search were either in poor quality or had the creator’s watermarks on them. This made it difficult to steal images from the image search page anyway, and then the users used the ‘search by image’ feature. Also, users have pointed out that you can still download an image directly from image search by right-clicking on it, and then clicking “open image in new tab”.

However, as a company, Google has been able to strike a balance between users’ facilities and publishers’ concerns, although the former don’t seem to be too happy about it.


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