For the last few years, we’ve collaborated with the image licensing industry to raise awareness of licensing requirements for content found through Google Images. In 2018, we began supporting IPTC Image Rights metadata; in February 2020 we announced a new metadata framework through Schema.org and IPTC for licensable images. Since then, we’ve seen widespread adoption of this new standard by websites, image platforms and agencies of all sizes. Today, we’re launching new features on Google Images which will highlight licensing information for images, and make it easier for users to understand how to use images responsibly.
What is it?
Images that include licensing information will be labeled with a “Licensable” badge on the results page. When a user opens the image viewer (the window that appears when they select an image), we will show a link to the license details and/or terms page provided by the content owner or licensor. If available, we’ll also show an additional link that directs users to a page from the content owner or licensor where the user can acquire the image.
Left: Images result page with the Licensable badge
Right: Images Viewer showing licensable image, with the new fields Get the image on and License details
We’re also making it easier to find images with licensing metadata. We’ve enhanced the usage rights drop-down menu in Google Images to support filtering for Creative Commons licenses, as well as those that have commercial or other licenses.
Updated Usage Rights filter
What are the benefits to image licensors?
- As noted earlier, if licensing metadata is provided from the image licensor, then the licensable badge, license details page and image acquisition page will be surfaced in the images viewer, making it easier for users to purchase or license the image from the licensor
- If an image resides on a page that isn’t set up to let a user acquire it (e.g. a portfolio, article, or gallery page), image licensors can link to a new URL from Google Images which takes the user directly to the page where they can purchase or license the image
- For image licensors, the metadata can also be applied by publishers who have purchased your images, enabling your licensing details to be visible with your images when they’re used by your customers. (This requires your customers to not remove or alter the IPTC metadata that you provide them.)
We believe this is a step towards helping people better understand the nature of the content they’re looking at on Google Images and how they can use it responsibly.
How do I participate?
To learn more about these features, how you can implement them and troubleshoot issues, visit the Google developer help page and our common FAQs page.
To provide feedback on these features, please use the feedback tools available on the developer page for the licensable images features, the Google Webmaster Forum, and stay tuned for upcoming virtual office hours where we will review common questions.
What do image licensors say about these features?
“A collaboration between Google and CEPIC, which started some four years ago, has ensured that authors and rights holders are identified on Google Images. Now, the last link of the chain, determining which images are licensable, has been implemented thanks to our fruitful collaboration with Google. We are thrilled at the window of opportunities that are opening up for photography agencies and the wider image industry due to this collaboration. Thanks, Google.”
- Alfonso Gutierrez, President of CEPIC
“As a result of a multi-year collaboration between IPTC and Google, when an image containing embedded IPTC Photo Metadata is re-used on a popular website, Google Images will now direct an interested user back to the supplier of the image,” said Michael Steidl, Lead of the IPTC Photo Metadata Working Group. “This is a huge benefit for image suppliers and an incentive to add IPTC metadata to image files.”
- Michael Steidl, Lead of the IPTC Photo Metadata Working Group
“Google's licensable image features are a great step forward in making it easier for users to quickly identify and license visual content. Google has worked closely with DMLA and its members during the features' development, sharing tools and details while simultaneously gathering feedback and addressing our members' questions or concerns. We look forward to continuing this collaboration as the features deploy globally.”
- Leslie Hughes, President of the Digital Media Licensing Association
“We live in a dynamic and changing media landscape where imagery is an integral component of online storytelling and communication for more and more people. This means that it is crucial that people understand the importance of licensing their images from proper sources for their own protection, and to ensure the investment required to create these images continues. We are hopeful Google’s approach will bring more visibility to the intrinsic value of licensed images and the rights required to use them.”
- Ken Mainardis, SVP, Content, Getty Images & iStock by Getty Images
“With Google’s licensable images features, users can now find high-quality images on Google Images and more easily navigate to purchase or license images in accordance with the image copyright. This is a significant milestone for the professional photography industry, in that it's now easier for users to identify images that they can acquire safely and responsibly. EyeEm was founded on the idea that technology will revolutionise the way companies find and buy images. Hence, we were thrilled to participate in Google’s licensable images project from the very beginning, and are now more than excited to see these features being released."
- Ramzi Rizk, Co-founder, EyeEm
"As the world's largest network of professional providers and users of digital images, we at picturemaxx welcome Google's licensable images features. For our customers as creators and rights managers, not only is the visibility in a search engine very important, but also the display of copyright and licensing information. To take advantage of this feature, picturemaxx will be making it possible for customers to provide their images for Google Images in the near future. The developments are already under way."
- Marcin Czyzewski, CTO, picturemaxx
“Google has consulted and collaborated closely with Alamy and other key figures in the photo industry on this project. Licensable tags will reduce confusion for consumers and help inform the wider public of the value of high quality creative and editorial images.”
- James Hall, Product Director, Alamy
“Google Images’ new features help both image creators and image consumers by bringing visibility to how creators' content can be licensed properly. We are pleased to have worked closely with Google on this feature, by advocating for protections that result in fair compensation for our global community of over 1 million contributors. In developing this feature, Google has clearly demonstrated its commitment to supporting the content creation ecosystem.
- Paul Brennan, VP of Content Operations, Shutterstock
"Google Images’ new licensable images features will provide expanded options for creative teams to discover unique content. By establishing Google Images as a reliable way to identify licensable content, Google will drive discovery opportunities for all agencies and independent photographers, creating an efficient process to quickly find and acquire the most relevant, licensable content."
- Andrew Fingerman, CEO of PhotoShelter