Google Images is making it easier to license photo rights

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Google is rolling out an update to Google Images designed to make it easier to license photographs or pictures that are covered by copyright. The change could help publishers, photographers, and artists get in front of their audience, while also helping users find images that they have a right to use.

Images with licensing information provided by the publisher will now appear in search results with a “Licensable” badge over the thumbnail. Clicking on that image will then bring up its licensing requirements and a link to where you’re able to buy rights to it, if necessary. Licensors are able to specify a purchasing link that differs from the page the image has been surfaced from.

It’ll also be possible to filter image search results by the type of license attached. For example, you could search just for images covered under a less strict Creative Commons license, or look specifically for commercial photos.

Google worked with the imaging licensing industry on these new features. “We believe this is a step towards helping people better understand the nature of the content they’re looking at on Google Images and how they can use it responsibly,” the company says in a blog post.

“Google Images’ new features help both image creators and image consumers by bringing visibility to how creators’ content can be licensed properly,” says Shutterstock’s VP of content operations Paul Brennan. “We are pleased to have worked closely with Google on this feature, by advocating for protections that result in fair compensation for our global community of over one million contributors. In developing this feature, Google has clearly demonstrated its commitment to supporting the content creation ecosystem.”

While Google Images was originally something of a free-for-all tool that cataloged pictures across the internet, over time the company has made changes in an attempt to mollify copyright owners who argued that it made stealing images too easy. A couple of years ago, for example, Google removed the button to view the full-size image directly from the search results, instead encouraging users to visit the associated website.

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