Google Images’ License Filter Makes Finding and Buying Stock Photos Easier

Yesterday Google announced a long-awaited update to Google Images that features licensable images in a clearer and more useful way than ever before. 

Through a badge, copyright info, license, and purchase links, and a search filter, Google is now making it possible for you to search, identify, find, and buy a stock photo using Google Images. 

These functions were developed through close collaboration with stock photo agencies such as Shutterstock, image creators, and digital content associations like CEPIC and DMLA.

The move hopes to benefit both users and image providers while educating the community as a whole on the topic of licensable images. 

licensable badge search results > Google Images’ License Filter Makes Finding and Buying Stock Photos Easier

A quick video about the usage of the new License Filter in Google Images


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Check out my YouTube video where I explain how to find this filter in Google Images.

Licensable Badge: Spot the Stock Photo

Per the recent announcement by Google, one of the main updates in Google Images results is the addition of a badge that signs “Licensable” over images that are indexed as being under a license. 

The badge adds visibility to an issue that has been at the core of the stock photo industry for many years. The unauthorized use of licensable photos, in connection with Google Images’ indexing of stock photos, has caused more than one headache to stock photo agencies, photographers, and creatives alike. 

For the former, this ensures their images are unmistakably identified as licensable and copyrighted, reducing the chances of license/copyright infringement and lost revenue. For users, it helps you avoid legal problems stemmed from unknowingly using licensable photos without paying for them. Now just one glance over results will tell you which images require a license, and exactly how and where to get them. 

Image viewer license details > Google Images’ License Filter Makes Finding and Buying Stock Photos Easier

Licensing and Buying Info: Straight to the Source

google licensable image details shutterstock > Google Images’ License Filter Makes Finding and Buying Stock Photos Easier
Below the Title of the Image, you can see the Stock Agency (in this case Shutterstock) and the two new links “License Details” and “Get this image on”

Another valuable update is in the Image Viewer (the window that opens when you click on an image from search results). This field had already been modified to include copyright information when available, but now has real-value functionality with the addition of two links: 

  • License details: it links to a page selected by the content owner, that lays down the licensing terms and explains how to use the image correctly. 
  • Get this image on: it sends you right to the page –also defined by the content owner– where you can effectively buy a license to the image you found, like to a stock photo agency. 

With these features, you not only can know when an image is licensable and exactly how and where, but you’re also going to have it much easier to find it. 

Usage Rights Screenshot Desktop > Google Images’ License Filter Makes Finding and Buying Stock Photos Easier

Finally, the cherry on the top is a drop-down filter option that lets you see only licensable images for any image search you run on Google Images. 

Not only that, but you can select between Creative Commons licenses, and commercial or other licenses. 

This means you can find stock photos using Google like never before and even weed them out for free or paid as you see fit. 

Steps how to get to the new filter

  • Go to Google Images (or click on Images in your Google Homepage)
  • Start a new search, either by entering a keyword or uploading an image
  • Find the “Tools” button — a new sub-menu will emerge
  • Click on “Usage Rights
  • Click on “Commercial & other licenses
  • You should now see the “Licensable” badge on every photo shown in the results

High-Profile Collaboration for Image Licensing

These features have been in the works for a while, and are the result of a close collaboration between Google with some of the most important digital content associations such as CEPIC and DMLA in the U.S., and big names in the stock photo industry like the one and only Shutterstock. All of whom have celebrated Google’s effort in addressing the proper licensing of digital imagery. homepage

Speaking of Shutterstock, they are one of the first onboard with these updates! Announced yesterday, their images are already indexed with all the new Licensable Images features, so you can now find and buy any Shutterstock image easily, starting with a simple Google Images search! 

This is only the beginning, though, and you can expect most of the top stock photo agencies and image providers to soon have their photos properly set up with badge and links. 

We believe this update can significantly reduce the risks of using Google to find images for your designs, and also make it simpler for you to find the perfect photo for your project. 

What do you think of these changes? Let us know your thoughts! 

Amos Struck
Amos Struck

Amos Struck, a renowned expert with over two decades in the stock photography industry, is known for his profound expertise in both stock imagery and artificial intelligence (AI). He is the founder of and a driving force behind the innovative AI-driven platform, His pioneering work in visual AI is marked by co-founding Ximilar AI. Amos also established the Microstock Expo Conference, a key event in the stock photography sector. As a regular speaker at major industry conferences like DMLA and a prominent member of CEPIC, he consistently contributes to the industry's growth and evolution through a blend of technological innovation and market insight.

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