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Getty Images Slammed After Google Bows To Pressure Over Image Indexing

Google is facing a major backlash after they bowed to pressure from Getty Images over the use of their search engines image indexing system.

Millions of Companies who use the search engine to hunt for none copyrighted images are now being restricted from getting access to high res images after Getty Images complained to the European Commission, accusing Google of anti-competitive practices.

The only problem is that many of the images that Getty Images claim that they have a copyright on are identical to none copyrighted images.

Google said it had removed some features from image search, including the “view image” button.

Getty Images said it was a “significant milestone” but critics said the move was “a step backwards”.

Getty Images is a photo library that sells the work of photographers and illustrators to businesses, newspapers and broadcasters. They also turn up at trade shows such as CES, shoot identical images to those that are often free or shot by brands
looking for free image use.

Getty Images who in the past have tried to sue Australian organisations over image use, complained that Google’s image search made it easy for people to find Getty Images pictures and take them, without the appropriate permission or licence.

Google’s image search feature had a button labelled “view image” that would open an individual picture in the web browser, making it easy to download.

People could find and take images – albeit not in high quality and usually watermarked – without visiting the Getty Images website.

As part of its agreement with Getty Images, the “view image” button has been removed.


What users now have to do is right click the image and open a new window to view the original image you then have to trawl through the website it appears on to find it.

Critics said the change made Google Images harder to use. It also removed the “search by image” button, which was an easy way of finding larger copies of photographs.

Getty Images said Google had also agreed to display image copyright information more prominently next to results.

“For those asking, yes, these changes came about in part due to our settlement with Getty Images this week,” Google said.

But critics said the changes were “awful”, “user-unfriendly” and “degraded the product”.

“This is a terrible idea… you find an image on Google Images only for the image to be nowhere in sight,” said one user on Twitter. “Talk about destroying your own successful service.”

Many suggested people should try rival image search engines such as Bing, which still have a “view image” button.

Others pointed out that right-clicking an image in Google’s Chrome browser and clicking “open image in new tab” replicated the missing function.

In a statement, Getty Images said: “We are pleased to announce that after working cooperatively with Google over the past months, our concerns are being recognised and we have withdrawn our complaint.”

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