When searching for images online, Google offered a very useful option in the form of a “View Image” button for each result. It meant you could click an image in the stream, then click the button to see the image full size without having to load anything else. However, the button is no more and it looks like we have Getty Images to thank, at least in part, for it being removed.
As The Verge reports, changes to Google’s image search page were introduced yesterday and it seems to be a direct response to the complaints lodged against Google by photographers and publishers over images being stolen. The result being, it’s now more difficult to simply view an image found using a Google search.
Last week, Google signed a multi-year global licensing deal with Getty Images that allows Google to use Getty Images across its different services. Getty has in the past accused Google of encouraging piracy by providing high-resolution copyrighted material, and discouraging folks from viewing images at their source. The deal is meant to put that accusation to rest, but Google also agreed to clearly show copyright information next to images and “improve attribution” specifically for Getty’s images.
For those asking, yes, these changes came about in part due to our settlement with Getty Images this week (see also https://t.co/a5uFldOcih). They are designed to strike a balance between serving user needs and publisher concerns, both stakeholders we value.
— Google SearchLiaison (@searchliaison) February 15, 2018
As the tweet above confirms, the removal of the view image button came about because of this deal and settlement with Getty Images. What it means for users is a new look to Google Images search results and a “Visit” button to press. The only problem with that is, instead of just loading the image it loads the website hosting it. If you simply want to look through the image search results, that’s a lot of extra time and data to download for every click.
The most likely response to this change is users will soon learn to stop clicking the Visit link unless they really want to see an image full size. Will it stop images being “stolen”? Unlikely, although there’s a growing number of destinations on the web that offer images free of any commercial copyright. For example, Pexels and Pixabay.