Google has recently (Feb 15, 2018) made a change to image search that sounds way smaller as compared to its big impact. Google has removed the “View image” button that appeared when you clicked on a picture in Google image search, which allowed you to open the image alone without visiting the website hosting that image.
The View Image button was extremely useful for users, because while searching on google anyone could have opened any picture in new tab without visiting the website linked to that image. User could easily save the image to their computers or other Devices. But now, people will have to take additional steps to save an image.
The change is not meant to frustrate users but for some other reason. Google has been receiving continuous complains from photographers and publishers who felt that image search allowed people to steal their pictures. The removal of the “View Image” button is one of many changes Google has made in response. Google also announced a deal to show copyright information and improve attribution of Getty photos last week and these changes have been rolled out.
Today we’re launching some changes on Google Images to help connect users and useful websites. This will include removing the View Image button. The Visit button remains, so users can see images in the context of the webpages they’re on.
–Google SearchLiaison said in twitter post
The intention seems very clear. It is going to be either stopping people from taking an image altogether or routing them through the website where the image is hosted or found, so that the website can earn some revenue by serving ads to visitors. So, people are more likely to be shown associated copyright information. That’s great news for website publishers, but it’s an annoying additional step for the people trying to find a suitable picture for themselves. Now, users will have to wait for the website to load and then scroll through it to get to the image. Some websites disable the ability to right click, which would make it even harder for someone to grab a photo they’re looking for. You may have to use some tricks to get that image.
Fortunately, not all the doors are closed, there is still at least one way to get images without visiting the website. To get to image directly, right click on image and select “Open image in new tab” or “view image” (this option varies from browser to browser), and you can open full-size picture in new tab of your web browser.
Alternatively, you can select “Copy image address” from right-click menu and paste it in new tab and full size image will be opened.
As most of the people are not aware of this option and the “Visit site” button is now the most visible button, it will probably get most of the clicks.
Besides removing the “View image” button, Google has also removed the “search by image” button that appeared when you opened a photo in Google search.
This is not a big change. But you will still be able to do a reverse image search by dragging and dropping the image to the Google search bar. Google will still display related images when you click on an image in search results. The people mostly used “View Image” button to find un-watermarked versions of images they were interested in, which was causing traffic loss to publishers. This is probably one of the reasons why Google pulled it off.
It’s good to see Google protecting photographer’s hard work and driving traffic to their websites but the changes are little annoying to be fare. There are plenty of legitimate and legal uses of copyrighted images. It will be better to ask owners about using their images and providing proper attribution. These changes really seem to be designed to stop stealing images easily.