back to article Getty load of this: Google to kill off 'View image' button in search

Google's deal this month with stock-photo agency Getty to end their legal spat carries one very noticeable provision: the "View image" button will be removed from Google Images search results. The two sides on Friday announced a licensing settlement, er, partnership that will allow Google to continue carrying Getty-owned …

  1. handleoclast

    Bad bargaining

    Google should have offered to simply remove all Getty images from search results. Then Getty would have paid Google to put them back in.

    1. DavCrav

      Re: Bad bargaining

      "Google should have offered to simply remove all Getty images from search results. Then Getty would have paid Google to put them back in."

      1) This kind of strongarm tactics is what would see Google in court fairly quickly for abuse of dominant position.

      2) Getty would likely have said 'fine, go for it'. They make almost all their money from companies who license from them directly, and don't have a quick look on Google to find an image so they can commit a crime with it. (Copyright infringement is a crime. It isn't stealing, but it is still criminal.)

      1. James Ashton

        Re: Bad bargaining

        "Copyright infringement is a crime. It isn't stealing, but it is still criminal."

        Nope. It varies by jurisdiction but commonly you have to be profiting from your copyright infringement for it to be a criminal act. Using a Getty image for your school assignment isn't going to result in any criminal penalty, even if you use the high resolution versions.

        1. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

          Re: Bad bargaining

          Not exactly. It is usually a Civil Offence. It is a breach of Civil Law, so it is certainly against the law, but it is not usually a crime.

          If you use an image belonging to someone else this will be a breach of the law unless you can show that you fall into an exempt usage category (hugely dependent on jurisdiction). Academic use is often exempt. Note, however, that civil actions are prosecuted by individuals, so an image owner may still decide to sue you, using involvement in the judicial system as the punishment (it can be very expensive).

          Copyright law is there for commercial protection.Penalties are therefore based on the profit you have made, or the profit the counterparty has lost, as a result of your actions. For use in a school assignment this would probably be non-existent, even if you were found to have breached the law. This is why copyright holders argue that music and film 'pirates' have cost their company vast millions - if they had not, the penalty would be laughably small.

      2. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

        Re: Bad bargaining

        ...(Copyright infringement is a crime. It isn't stealing, but it is still criminal.)...

        Not sure what you mean by 'criminal'.

        Note that there are two distinct branches of law, Criminal and Civil. Criminal law handles issues which are defined as wrongdoing against the state, and the process involves prosecution by the state. Breaches of these laws are termed 'crimes'.

        Civil law handles issues between individuals or companies. In this case the 'wronged' party initiates the prosecution, and breaches of these laws are termed 'offences'.

        Things vary between jurisdictions, but in general 'copyright infringement' is a civil offence, not a crime...

        1. Kevin Johnston

          Re: Bad bargaining

          I always struggled with the difference between unlawful and illegal until someone explained that the first was a breach of statute or common law and the second...

          was a sick bird

          OK, I'm going

      3. Mage Silver badge

        Re: Bad bargaining

        "1) This kind of strongarm tactics is what would see Google in court fairly quickly for abuse of dominant position."

        Instead, maybe Getty images will have higher rank than others. Getty sells access to images that are actually long out of copyright. I bet it gets harder to find them.

        Google is getting harder to use as a real search engine because their real business is selling adverts.

    2. jameshogg

      Re: Bad bargaining

      The lawsuit probably did go along the lines of "if you make us pay damages we'll strip everything you've got from our search results completely forever". That's probably why there was this compromise. The lawsuit would have kept going otherwise, considering all the energy they put in to starting the lawsuit in the first place.

      Now all I see is either Getty images being at the top of all search results spamming with pay passes, pissing everyone off so much that all users go to a different image search engine, or Getty images being at the bottom of all search results stripping them of traffic unless Google pushes them back up artificially and probably at an additional cost to Getty. No doubt in all cases with the images being placed beside similar-but-free photographs using the magic of algorithms and AI-photo-recognition.

      Either way Google is still calling the shots. Nobody backlinks to a paywall anywhere near as much as they do to a free page.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Bad bargaining

        Would you steal a policeman's helmet?

    3. thames Silver badge

      Re: Bad bargaining

      I would rather see Creative Commons (and other similar licenses) photos at the top of results, with anything else located further down in a separate section. A lot of what amounts to spam from these companies appears in search results when you are looking for a clear photo (e.g. no watermark plastered across it) of something for non-commercial purposes (just to look at, for example). I want to see stock photos in my image search results about as much as I want to see "shopping comparison sites" in my text search results (i.e., not at all).

      Oh, and as a note to journalists and blog writers, stop putting pointless stock photos at the top of your stories. It's a waste of bandwidth and it's a waste of my time and effort as it means the first thing I have to do is scroll down past an utterly pointless and irrelevant stock photo before I can start reading. If the photo is directly relevant to the story, by all means include it. A pointless picture of a model holding something irrelevant though provides no value to the reader.

      If you want to really see the height of hypocrisy though, just have a look at almost all of the news stories condemning crypto currency miners for their alleged vast energy consumption. Almost all of those very same new stories will include very large format pointless stock photos which have no direct relevance to the story, but which consume vast amounts of energy in sending, transmitting, receiving, and displaying them. Pot meet kettle.

      1. Ed_UK

        Re: Bad bargaining

        "Oh, and as a note to journalists and blog writers, stop putting pointless stock photos at the top of your stories."

        Yes, upvoted! I wonder how much dosh the BBC pisses away in order to slather useless stock images into every article. Presumably they have an agreement with Getty & AP to use a certain number of stock photos per week/day/article (speculation, not based on any research).

        E.g. article on nutrition - must have pictures of food, in case readers don't know what it looks like.

        Article on education - must have pic of children in classroom.

        Article on age-related issue - include pic of some old people, in case we don't know what they look like.

        Article on cyber-crime - must have stock pic of weird corridor lit with green light, 'cos that's what computers look like, innit!

        1. Guevera

          Re: Bad bargaining

          "stop putting pointless stock photos at the top of your stories."

          I wish I could. But a story with a stick image will get read more than one without. It'll also get about twice as much reach on Facebook.

          Also you generally don't get stock images from AP. News shooters tend to shoot very specific images that make lousy stock photos. And whatever contact the BBC has with Getty you can bet it's costing aunty a ton on cash - Getty ain't cheap.

          1. Ivan Headache

            Re: Bad bargaining

            "And whatever contact the BBC has with Getty you can bet it's costing aunty a ton on cash - Getty ain't cheap."

            Getty bought the Hulton Collection from the BBC. There my well have been a deal whereby Auntie got free (or cut-price) access.

            Not sure but It might be so.

          2. nijam Silver badge

            Re: Bad bargaining

            > ... a story with a stick image ...

            What's brown and sticky?

            A stick.

            Sorry, I couldn't (be arsed to) find a stock image of a stick.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Bad bargaining

              Sorry, I couldn't (be arsed to) find a stock image of a stick.

              Don't worry, I can help you out there.


          3. David Nash

            Re: Bad bargaining

            Images at the top of a news story traditionally are of the story, or someone or something in the story. Not an unrelated stock image, that adds nothing.

            It's like a BBC reporter standing outside a building just because the person that the story is about, is inside. Pointless and could be done from the studio.

            1. ravenviz Silver badge

              Re: Bad bargaining

              because the person that the story is about, is inside

              Well maybe they’ll come out, then the jornalist gets a scoop.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Bad bargaining

          "stop putting pointless stock photos at the top of your stories."

          if you find these as irritatingas I do then its pretty simple to craft an AdBlock+ rule to eliminate them (slightyly damages the positioning of the top article title which goes over the menu bar I never use). And I believe that opnce your using AdBlock+ there are other irritiating parts (including, but not limited to, the "look at me" badges in comments pages) of the site that can also be removed!

        3. DanceMan

          Re: that's what computers look like

          No, computers have lots of coloured blinky lights. Anyone who grew up with the movies and tv of the fifties, sixties and seventies knows this.

          I'll never understand why no one made a screensaver in that fashion.

      2. Indolent Wretch

        Re: Bad bargaining

        Unless I have an option to choose I'd rather see the image that the algorithm thinks best matches my search terms at the top of the result. That's the bloody point.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Bad bargaining

      Google should have offered to simply remove all Getty images from search results. Then Getty would have paid Google to put them back in.

      Google falls under the definition of "significant market power" in Eu monopoly law parlance. Your suggestion would be equivalent to 10% annual turnover fine.

      It is good they now have people that actually have a bit more clue advising them instead of people like you (they tried to use tactics like this initially > 5 years ago).

    5. John Lilburne

      Re: Bad bargaining

      "Then Getty would have paid Google to put them back in."

      I have meta tags ban google from index images on my site. I saw no drop ion traffic in doing so. The drop in traffic came when google made getting to the site more difficult, displayed large size images, and opened the image directly within image search, some 30% of site traffic disappeared once they did that. I see no point in providing a commercial site like google with free content for no return.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How does that fit in with the large number of images that Getty has lifted from other sites and put their copyright on without permission?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      How does that fit in with the large number of images that Getty has lifted

      it fits very well with common hypocracy, aka do as I say, don't do as I do.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Getty - 'a legalized form of extortion'

  4. JeffyPoooh

    Suggestion to Google

    Number of times I need to borrow an image for trivial comedy purposes: endless

    Number of times I have or would pay for an image from Getty, Betty or similar: never

    Signed, almost everyone.

    Put a filter option to (permanently) hide all such images. They're of no use to almost all of us. Ad agencies can switch off that filter.

    1. teknopaul Silver badge

      Re: Suggestion to Google

      Its already there, under tools.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Suggestion to Google

      try -stock at the end of the search, gets rid of 99% of them.

  5. Justin Case

    All are equal

    Seems odd that Getty gets singular treatment. Surely any infringement against anybody is equally egregious.

    All Getty has to do is make sure that the image it offers up to the Google bot has a chuffing big highly visible watermark up it. Otherwise is that not infringing one of the "rules" that says different content shouldn't be offered up on the basis of whether a visitor is a crawler or a regular human browser?

    1. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

      Re: All are equal

      Indeed... Why is Getty exposing high resolution, non-watermarked versions of its images to the public internet, if it expects people to pay for them first?

  6. msknight

    Getty's relevance

    I do have to wonder with today's image use, where Getty fits in.

    A chunk of the images that pass my eyes are either penny-driven click fodder that accompanies articles, or has been specifically paid for, and created for a singular purpose, like advertising material.

    Historical photos are the most common Getty archive that I see, but I do wonder that with today being tomorrows history, that Getty will be serving less of the historical reference market as time goes on.

  7. Anonymous Coward


    ...if only there was a way of Getty themselves not offering the high res images up to to Google, some sot of text file that tells Google bots what they can and can't index; or maybe even some sort of hot-linking protection on the server.


    1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      Re: Wow...

      They cannot. The ranking of the image actually depends on the quality and you are immediately disqualified if you offer google search crawler something different than what you offer Joe Average user.

      Watermarking is not really an option in the day and age when people can use neural nets to do image processing. They are just too easy to remove.

  8. Wolfclaw

    Of course Getty don't find uncredited work and put it in their archives until the owner issues a DMCA notice and refuse to hand over any cash made, kettle pot black?

  9. Christoph

    You can no longer just view the image and then save it, you get the Getty copyright page instead. So what happens if instead you elect to visit the page where the image is hosted and download the image from there?

  10. Lotaresco

    Snipping Tool etc

    Given that the use most users seem to make of Getty images is for comment on social media, I suspect that a screen capture tool of choice will be used to do the job since most people want 320x240 image not a high resolution image and they don't want to pay £100 to say "LOL Kittens".

    If Getty are so precious about a sale that they would never have made, then they need to pull all their images from search results.

    1. David Nash

      Re: Snipping Tool etc

      On the one hand, many uses would not have resulted in a sale anyway. But on the other hand, Getty don't want to encourage the view that all images on the web are freely available. If people get used to copying images for personal use, they may do the same when they should be paying for it (eg. small business website, etc).

  11. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

    Will have to see what the going forward is like.

    Expect a lot of complaints, and badgering of IT support persons by folks who don't want to pay for an image, but still want to download it.

  12. Jonny English

    I'm disappointed it didn't go to court. Having the two must dubious companies in the photo industry do a deal behind closed doors is bound to be only in their own interests. I would rather have had a court decide what was fair and lawful.

    It would be better if search engine results simply pointed at the website where the image was found, that way the website operator can decide whether he is going to give it away free of sell it. This is how it used to be. When Google introduced its "easy steal" search and infringement encouragement facility the numbers of visitors to my professional photo website halved and with it the number of people paying to use my photos. At the same time the number of unlawful users rocketed. In case your interested I am not worried by school kids using the images for homework, or even private non commercial blogs , I am concerned mainly about commercial copyright infringement, ie people making money with my photos illegally.

    I don't know how it is with other photographers, but with my own work the vast majority of people using my work without permission are doing so to make money. Contrary to the myth that these are all penniless individuals, the majority are businesses and many are very large businesses. Here in the UK we can read business accounts free online and I have been surprised to find that many companies who are too stingy to pay for my photos have more than a million pounds "Cash in Bank". In one case I found an Estate Agent ( realtor in US ) selling 2.4 million pounds ( 3.3m Dollars ) worth of luxury apartments and the only thing they had on their website was my photograph, from which they had removed my name and meta data rather than pay for it.

    The existing copyright notice on Google is laughable. "Images may be subject to copyright". They write that next to a professional photo which google knows full well is subject to copyright because google reads the meta data.

    I have little doubt that Google wants the public to infringe copyright so that they will then get worked up and campaign against copyright. Googles end goal is that there be no copyright protection and all Images are sourced through their business. They do of course want copyright protection for their own services and software.

  13. Geekpride

    Am I missing something?

    I'm a bit confused by this. Getty were putting the full, high-res images up online and are complaining that these could be found by an image search, right? If Getty are so worried about this, why not just offer lower-res preview images and hide the high-res stuff behind a paywall? That would seem to make more sense.

    1. Remy Redert

      Re: Am I missing something?

      But if they put up the low resolution file, they'll end up low on the search ranking and may be excluded based on size, because there's no way for a website to give the bot a low res file to link and say "I have these other resolutions as well".

      Additionally, any significant watermark is going to screw up reverse image search, so you can't show those to the bot either.

      Worst part is all the cases where a website purports to have a picture, the view image link sends you right to it but the link to the page it should be on doesn't have it, where it will now be impossible to find the picture you're looking for.

      1. jelabarre59

        Re: Am I missing something?

        But if they put up the low resolution file, they'll end up low on the search ranking and may be excluded based on size, because there's no way for a website to give the bot a low res file to link and say "I have these other resolutions as well".

        But the people who are likely to be buying/licensing images from Getty are more likely to be searching through Getty's catalogue, right?

        Oh, I get it; Getty's own image search engine must be crap, so they figure on leeching on Google's search engine for free. If they needed Google-grade search, perhaps they should just pay for a Google in-house search server.

  14. itzman

    Did getty really...

    allow access to full res images by search engines and robots without payment?

    They deserve anything they get

    If your real salable data isn't hidden behind a paywall what do you expect?

  15. fobobob


    Great, one more Goofball product neutered to the point of being nigh-useless.

    1. Adrian 4 Silver badge

      Re: Yay

      Do we lose the 'view image' option on all the useful images as well as the boring stock Getty ones ?

      When use image search, I'm not looking for an image to copy: I'm looking for a target that's more easily identified by its appearance than by text.

      1. illiad

        Re: Yay

        you can get a FF/chrm plugin to restore the 'view image'... Or you can just 'right click' :) :)

  16. Dog Eatdog


    Like other posters here, I'm confused.

    If I go direct to Getty, I get only previews or images with writing scrawled across them.

    How does Google get the good stuff that we can't otherwise see?

  17. LeoTeal

    Guys please sign this petition to let google know we don't like this change!

    Guys please sign this petition to let google know we don't like this change

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