Google has made it more difficult for people to save pictures from its image search product, as part of a “peace deal” with photo library Getty Images.
In 2017, Getty Images complained to the European Commission, accusing Google of anti-competitive practices.
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”.
Why did Getty Images complain?
Getty Images is a photograph library that sells the work of photographers and illustrators to businesses, newspapers and broadcasters.
It complained that Google’s image search made it simple for individuals to find Getty Images pictures and take them, without the correct 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 simple to download.
Individuals could find and take images- though not in high quality and for the most part watermarked – without going to the Getty Images website.
How has Google responded?
As a major aspect of its agreement with Getty Images, the “view image” button has been removed.
While it is still easy for individuals to download a picture, individuals are now encouraged to trawl through the website it shows up on to find it.
Google said the change would “help connect users and useful websites”.
It additionally expelled the “search by image” button, which was a simple method for finding bigger copies of photos.
Getty Images said Google had additionally consented to show 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.
“They are designed to strike a balance between serving user needs and publisher concerns, both stakeholders we value.”
Be that as it may, 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 proposed individuals should try rival image search engines for example, 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 an announcement, Getty Images stated: “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.”