Google to Add Stock Image Label and Filter to Google Image Search

It's Here! Google Licensable Images Features - 2020.08.31On August 31st, 2020, Google finally launched an update to Google Images focused on Licensable Images. This update includes a badge on image results, useful links on Image Viewer, and filter options. It is now possible to not only know when an image in search results is under a license, but also to go and buy it in a few clicks.

Such additions are the result of constant requests from and close collaboration with CEPIC and Google, and this article narrates the previous instance on this joint effort.

At CEPIC Congress 2019 –a photography-focused event happened in Europe last week–, Google announced they are working in a function to highlight stock images and even filter them in searches on the Google Image Search feature.

Even today many people still think when they need a photo for a design, they can just search for it on Google… and they think “as I found it in Google, it's free”. Wrong! And we tell you why when we answer the question of whether or not you can use images found with Google. 

This new development in Google's search engine will finally enable photo buyers to search and find licensable stock photos directly on Google, a capability many of you have wished for long. 

Plus, this aims at making copyright information clearer and more visible, something stock photo agencies and image authors have asked for ages as well, to reduce image theft that hurts theirs and their contributors' business. 

Let's get the full deets!

At this year’s CEPIC Congress held on June 5th to June 7th 2019 in Paris, Google announced the developing of a new function to detect and search for stock photos on their platform.

Not available as of yet, the upcoming new function will add a label for licensable stock photos that are indexed by the all-mighty Google search engine, meaning all stock images showing up in your Google Image Search results will be clearly marked as stock.

A bit more useful for photo buyers, they say they will also have a filter that you can select to show you only stock photos for your search.

Essentially, this would let you find pictures for your designs just by searching on Google. However, so far the word is that the results on their platform won’t include licensing details or prices. It will be up to each stock photo agency to arrange how to display this info for the potential buyer, and/or up to buyers to follow through to the source website and find what they need to know.

Making Google Images Safer and Fairer

This added functionality could be a gamechanger for searching and using photos found online in your designs.

We have warned you about the dangers of using photos from Google in your work in the past, and the main reason we did was because of the very fact that in Google Image Search results you could not easily tell which photos are copyright-free (be it in the Public Domain or put under a form of Creative Commons license for free use) and which were copyrighted and licensable, meaning you need to pay in order to use them.

In fact, several big stock photo agencies have in the past raised their concerns over the general misuse of Google Image Search results and how the indexing of stock images was opening the door for users to commit to copyright infringement.

Having a way to effectively tell and even filter stock images does a lot to eliminate these risks and is also a friendlier approach to both authors and stock photo agencies since it would mean the copyright and licensing details would be more noticeable and accessible.

Basically, it could make it easier for you to see you need to pay for an image and where to go in order to get it legally and fairly paying artists and agencies for their work. Plus, by using licensed stock photos you don’t have to worry about someone coming to you claiming you’re using their work without consent.

Improving the Search Experience for Photo Buyers

Something mentioned by Google product developers around this announcement is that a common note from users is how they find it difficult or annoying to use the stock photo agencies native search engines.

While we think most of the top agencies in the space have really advanced, fast and accurate search tools that are super user-friendly, we can understand nothing compares to being able to just pop Google up and search for the images you need… just like we do with nearly anything else.

So this upcoming feature could very well be exactly what many of you were expecting in terms of search experience for stock photography online!

Another interesting concept that was developed by different speakers in the CEPIC Congress 2019 was that of image metadata and its key importance for copyright enforcement.

As we mentioned, one of the biggest problems when searching for images in Google is that the copyright information was (so far) not as clear for the common Internaut. Many people would assume if you find a photo using Google it means it’s free to use and would get into all kinds of legal trouble from copyright infringement and unauthorized use to violation of the right of privacy.

What many experts discussed in this Congress is that in our highly digital times and especially around platforms like Google, the metadata (information embedded in the image files) becomes critical to identify and display the copyright details necessary to manipulate the images legally.

While as we also said, Google has no plans to include specifics of licensing and pricing in their Google Stock Images label, by highlighting the licensable and copyrighted status of these images on search results they’d be a lot more identifiable and also it’d be so much simpler to land on the right stock photo agency to fulfil the licensing process and get your photo legally and safely.

Overall, we think this development can have a considerable effect on how you search and work with stock photos in your creative process.

What do you think of a new stock images label on Google Image Search? Let us know!

Ivanna Attié
Ivanna Attié

I am Content Manager, Researcher, and Author in and Stock Photo Press and its many stock media-oriented publications. I am a passionate communicator with a love for visual imagery and an inexhaustible thirst for knowledge. Lucky enough to enter the wonderful world of stock photography working side-by-side with experienced experts, I am happy to share my research, insights, and advice about image licensing, stock photography offers, and the stock media industry with everyone in the creative community. My background is in Communication and Journalism, and I also love literature and performing arts.

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