Google today launched new features in Google Images “to help people use images on the web responsibly.” The features should benefit photographers, as they help people both identify photos that can be licensed as well as find out how to properly license them.
Google Images’ new “Licensable” badge, which had been in beta testing since February 2020, is now live.
“[W]ith a seemingly infinite number of images online, finding the right image to use, and knowing how to use that image responsibly, isn’t always a simple task,” Google says.
Google’s new Licensable badge aims to make it easier for photo buyers to find photos they can license. Whenever a publisher or photographer provides licensing information for a photo (by providing structured data or IPTC photo metadata), Google will display a badge that says “Licensable” over the photo in search results.
If you click a badged photo to view, you’ll see credit/copyright/creator info and a link to the license details of that photo.
If specified by the publisher/photographer, you’ll also see a second link to where you can purchase/license the photo. This second link can lead to a completely separate website than where the photo is found — for example, a photo published in a blog post can have a purchase/license link that leads to a Photoshelter photo page.
When providing photos to buyers, photographers can also include IPTC metadata that helps generate sales when the used photo shows up in Google Images (assuming the buyer doesn’t strip the metadata prior to publishing).
Search results can now also be filtered to only show photos that have licensing information. The Usage Rights dropdown menu has been simplified to just three options: “All”, “Creative Commons licenses”, and “Commercial & other licenses.”
Photographers have long complained about Google Images making it easy for their photos to be found and then misused without consent, compensation, and/or credit. These new changes may help reduce misuse and make it more commonplace for photographers to generate sales of their work through the image search engine.
“These updates are part of changes we have made on Google Images in recent years to make it more clear who the creator or copyright holder of the image is,” Google says.
To get your own photos properly badged and filtered on Google Images, there’s a documentation page you (or your developer) can read to make sure you correctly provide the necessary structured data or IPTC photo metadata.