Google Removes ‘View Image’ Button from Image Search to Protect Photos

Google has removed the “View Image” button from its Image Search results that had allowed anyone to quickly download the original image file while bypassing the host webpage. This is a step Google is taking to help protect photographers’ copyrights.

Last week, Getty Images announced a new licensing partnership with Google (which Google calls a “settlement”) that put an end to a lengthy legal battle between the two companies over allegations of “anti-competitive” practices — Google’s search made it easy to download high-resolution photos from Getty while bypassing the Getty website.

Google and Getty Images also worked together to address Getty’s concerns, and the search giant agreed to remove the “View Image” button that’s commonly used to directly access image files. That change has now gone live.

BEFORE. What Image Search results looked like before the change, with the “View Image” button present.
AFTER. What the Image Search results look like now, with the button removed.

Clicking the “Visit” button takes you directly to the webpage that the image is found on.

Google had also agreed to make the copyright notice on copyrighted photos more “prominent” for users, and that’s part of the tweaked design as well — the “Images may be subject to copyright” has been moved from being a tiny gray line of text under the buttons to a more noticeable line right beneath the photo preview.

While this latest change may be celebrated by photographers and other copyright holders, others aren’t as pleased with the move.

“While it’s good to see Google protecting photographers and driving traffic to websites, it’s still hard not to be a little annoyed by the changes,” The Verge writes. “There are plenty of legitimate and legal uses for copyrighted images.

“And while it’s fair to ask users to do their due diligence by making sure they’re properly attributing photos, these changes really seem designed to stop images from being grabbed in the first place.”