Put away the knives, fellers—Google and Getty have reached a compromise.

It all began in 2016, when Getty filed a lawsuit against Google in European courts, alleging that Google’s decision to show hi-res images in their “image search” tool was devaluing Getty’s property. Getty argued that, “Because image consumption is immediate,” just displaying a Getty image—let alone allowing its download—would diminish the value of their work.

“We believe our approach to work closely with Google will best protect copyright and the livelihoods of photographers”

If someone could simply right-click and hit “save image,” they reasoned, they would have little incentive to actually purchase its rights. Further, Google—which would earn advertising money each time a search was performed—failed to “contribut[e] to the costs of creating the content” that they displayed.

Just yesterday, however, the two sides announced they had reached a deal that would avoid further litigation. Here are the key takeaways from the agreement:

  1. Labelling – Google agreed to “mak[e] the copyright disclaimer more prominent” on image results. While this doesn’t stop would-be pilferers from scraping images, it does notify well-meaning individual unaware of copyright law.
  2. Removing “View Image” – Perhaps the most radical and noticeable change will be Google’s decision to remove the ‘view image’ button from appearing alongside an image result. This was at the center of Getty’s original complain; by hitting ‘view image,’ the user is given a hi-res copy of the original which they can then save. Instead, Google will only offer thumbnails of images, as they did prior to 2013.
  3. Partnership – The two sides agreed to a “multi-year licensing partnership” which will allow Google to use Getty’s images on all of their various products and services. Of which Getty Images released a statement reading, in part:


“We believe our approach to work closely with Google will best protect copyright and the livelihoods of photographers, and other artists who rely on licensing to earn a living and fund the creation of new works.”


Getty CEO Dawn Airey [Image Courtesy her LinkedIn]

Going Forward

Getty was wise enough to note that despite this “significant milestone,” many “other battles remain.” And this could not be more true.

The fact is, most photographers out there do not have an organization like Getty standing behind them which—besides offering the security of a salary to many of its employees—has the resources and legal wherewithal to protect their work. While it’s nice to see somebody make a dent in the free (aka stolen) photo ecosystem, it wasn’t exactly made by those who need it most; recall Getty settled a nearly $1 billion lawsuit just two years ago for trying to claim copyright on an image in the public domain.

Oh, and try not to gripe too much about the lost ‘view image’ button; it’s removal is for the best.

Feature Image Courtesy perzon seo