Google Images altered to calm legal grumblings made by Getty Images

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Google said on Thursday, February 15, that it made a few adjustments to Google Images as part of its settlement with stock photo agency Getty Images. One change sees the removal of the View Image button, forcing Googlers to hit the remaining Visit button to see images as they are posted on websites. Google also removed the Search by Image button to prevent the spread and discovery of illegally obtained images. 

“Ultimately, Google Images is a way for people to discover information in cases where browsing images is a better experience than text,” Google said on Thursday. “Having a single button that takes people to actionable information about the image is good for users, web publishers and copyright holders.” 

In April 2016, Getty Images filed a competition law complaint with the European Commission against Google, accusing the search engine giant of “distorting” results for its own benefits. The complaint targets changes made to Google Images in 2013, allowing Googlers to hunt down, view, and retrieve high-resolution images without visiting the original source site. 

Headquartered in Seattle, Getty Images generates cash by licensing royalty-free still images and illustrations. For instance, the company charges $575 per download for a single 4K image or HD video, or $450 per download for a 10-pack of 4K images and HD videos. A single small image or web-based video costs $175 to download and use. 

That said, you can understand the company’s frustration. Using Google Search, companies and individuals could get around the fees simply by grabbing stock images and videos posted on other websites. The company claims that not only does the Google Images component impact its image licensing business, but the income of more than 200,000 photojournalists, content creators and artists providing content. 

“These [2013] changes have allowed Google to reinforce its role as the internet’s dominant search engine, maintaining monopoly over site traffic, engagement data and advertising spend,” the company said. “This has also promoted piracy, resulting in widespread copyright infringement, turning users into accidental pirates.” 

But just last week Getty Images and Google reached an agreement that now trickles down into the revamped Google Images component. “They are designed to strike a balance between serving user needs and publisher concerns, both stakeholders we value,” Google said. 

The agreement also sees Google licensing content from Getty Images presumably in a whoops-our-bad-type gesture for the financial damages Google Images likely caused. Getty Images content will still continue to appear in search results, only you can’t grab high-resolution images and videos without visiting the source webpage. 

But there is still hope for Googlers wanting high-resolution images without the need for a bank loan. Google’s very own browser, Google Chrome, now plays host to an extension that brings the View Image button back to Google Images. Simply called View Image, the free Chrome extension is no different than the original Google Images function, only images appear in a new tab rather than within the same window. You can also search by image using this extension too.