The Google View Image button has been axed today in an effort to protect the copyright of various images around the web.
In a move that is great for photographers and website owners and extremely inconvenient for the average user, the Google View Image button has been removed from the search engine. The feature has long been a point of contention between image creators and the search engine giant, with the Google View Image button essentially providing an easier way for people to access the image from websites and repurpose it for their own use. While most photos will still be able to be used in this way, there is now an extra step that people will have to jump through, now needing to go to the website itself and open the image that way.
While removing the Google View Image button is certainly a welcome change for the photography community that has long dealt with people illegally using their images, it’s definitely a downgrade in service for the end user. This is a rather surprising move from Google, considering that the company has a track record of adjusting their search engine to best suit searchers in order to maximize the impact of their advertisements. With recent news that the company is adjusting ranking in new ways based on how advertisements are used on the site, it’s clear that the company still holds the user experience in high regard – even if the reason for that is to increase their profits at the end of the day. Still, the removal of the Google View Image button is definitely a setback for the average user who wants to save an image.
It may be true that the majority of people who use the Google View Image button may be using it for questionable purposes, but for those who simply wanted to save the image for their own personal use, it’s an unfortunate removal that adds another step to the process.
At the end of the day, this change is essentially meant to frustrate users and make it more difficult to use photos that belong to someone else. It’s important that copyright be respected online in order to honor ownership of different materials, and hampering the repurposing of owned images is no doubt a welcome change for those who produce the content. Whether this change to the Google View Image button is a positive one that leads to fewer copyright violations overall, or if it only serves to make the lives of the average web searcher a little more difficult remains to be seen.
A new deal was announced last week from Google that put a focus on showing copyright information and improving attribution of Getty photos, and this change to the Google View Image button is another step towards protecting the rights of photographers and publishers in an online format. Google is probably the biggest way in which people interact with the web, and adjusting this feature is a major step forward for the company when it comes to enforcing the rights of image owners who post their content online. While taking these steps won’t necessarily keep people from taking the images, as they can do so by opening the image in a new tab and saving it from there, they will now have to click through to the website in order to do so – presumably giving the website owners some much-needed ad revenue.
In addition to getting rid of the Google View Image button, the company also axed the “search by image” button that had appeared when you opened up a photo as well. The change isn’t quite as drastic, and you’ll still be able to do a reverse image search by dragging the image to the search bar. However, the “search by image” function was often used in order for users to find a non-watermarked version of photographs – another copyright concern for many photographers and website owners.
Overall, it’s a good thing that Google is standing up for the rights of photographers and publishers by enforcing copyright. However, removing the Google View Image button is no doubt a move that will get a negative reaction from the average user. It’s important to practice due diligence when taking an image for your own needs, but there are plenty of applications where saving a copyrighted image is not a problem in the least, making the removal of this button seem a little heavy-handed. Still, what’s done is done, and with the pressure from content creators to protect their content and Google’s incentive to drive traffic to advertisements, it’s likely that the removal of the Google View Image button is here to stay.