Google removes ‘View Image’ and ‘Search by Image’ functions from Google Images

Photo (c) courtneyk - Getty Images

The company says the changes will help curb piracy of copyrighted images

Downloading graphics from Google Images will take an extra step going forward.

Gone are the days where users could search for images, find one they like, and download the image directly by clicking on the "View Image" button without having to leave Google’s confines. Now, users must make an extra click that goes to the website hosting the image and download it from there.

The Search by Image button was also axed, but Google’s “reverse image search” still functions as it always has.

“These changes came about in part due to our settlement with Getty Images this week," Google's Search Liaison, Danny Sullivan, tweeted late last week. "They are designed to strike a balance between serving user needs and publisher concerns, both stakeholders we value."

The pushback against image piracy

The underlying factor in this is making sure copyrighted images – especially Getty’s – have another layer of security.

“This agreement between Getty Images and Google sets the stage for a very productive, collaborative relationship between our companies,” said Dawn Airey, CEO of Getty Images. “With this landmark achievement, we can move forward with a strong partner to deliver innovative ways to access creative and editorial content online. It also advances our mission to move the world with images.”

Whether it was a stare-down or just smart business with a profitable upside for both companies, the only unhappy party appears to be Google Images’ users. Sullivan’s Twitter announcement about the change riled up hundreds of users who protested loudly.

Many of the naysayers promised to move elsewhere for their image searches. “Did you want your user base to move to Bing? ‘Cause this is how you move them to Bing,” said one Twitter user in reply to Sullivan’s tweet.

However, Bing isn’t the only search engine who might benefit from the change. DuckDuckGo, Yahoo, TinEye, and the “View Image” browser add-on will all look to gain from Google Images’ shift. The big question is whether the long arm of Getty Images will eventually find its way to other search engines, as well.

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