Close up Chukar in the snow – Taken January 31, 2013
You might wonder why I have used this title but since the 25th of January changes have been made to Google Image Search that have infuriated webmasters, photographers, artists and many more.
It used to be that when you did an image search on Google you would see a page full of thumbnails and when you moused over the image it would show the link to where the image was stored on a server, for instance on mine http://www.onthewingphotography.com, and if you clicked a thumbnail it would load with the web site in the background. If the viewer wanted to see the full-sized image they would click the X and be on the web site.
The image above is a screen shot I made after searching in Google images for “mia mcpherson onthewingphotography Chukars” and I clicked on the image outlined in red. Then an image pops into a dark screen with some buttons on the side. Noticed that my site has not loaded in the background like it used to so the viewer could click the image and be on my site. Now to go to the site one must click the “View Page” button outlined in blue.
If you click image details (outlined in yellow) you would expect to read the EXIF information, for instance; the name of the copyright holder, contact information and camera settings. Not so, not so at all. Instead you go to a page that looks like this:
And if you click on any of the images the cycle is repeated again, you’d go to a page that looks like the one above where I have outlined key features in different colors.
Notice the tiny, almost unnoticeable, “Image may be subject to copyright“. Google fell flat on their faces with that one, there should be a sterner warning stating that “All images are copyrighted at the moment of creation, do not use without contacting the person who created it for permission” in a color that stands out to the viewer. People already think if they swipe an image off of a Google search that it is okay to use it. See my post on Palmlix.com and how the owner of that stinking wallpaper site thinks it is okay to steal images. It IS not okay to steal images from any search engine. Period.
Lets look at the button I outlined in green that says “View Original Image”, if you mouse over that button this is what you will see on your browser window’s status bar:
The changes Google have made since the 25th of January now hot link directly to your full-sized version on your server which increases the load on YOUR band width. I have unlimited bandwidth but some webmasters do not and this change could end up costing them more money and I don’t believe that Google has the right to do that. Not only that but I have no right-click protections set up on my blog and while I know that won’t stop ALL image theft it does deter some, GOOGLE has by-passed my protections and now offers up a hot-linked full size version of my file so viewers/scrapers/thieves do not even have to go to my site to swipe my images. Google has the right to display small-sized version of my images in searches but they have now taken it a step further and show the full image on a page where anyone can right-click and download my images.
I have routinely sent requests to Google when I find one of my images “hot linked” on a Google Bloggers blog and Google is obligated to take the image down or limit the Blog owners access to their site until it is according to the DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) so why does Google think that THEY can hot link to our images? I do not believe this “hot linking” to be ethical or legal. They are no better than the image thieves we file DMCA Takedown Notifications on when we find our images being infringed upon. This is from Wikipedia on the DMCA:
The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) is a United States copyright law that implements two 1996 treaties of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). It criminalizes production and dissemination of technology, devices, or services intended to circumvent measures (commonly known as digital rights management or DRM) that control access to copyrighted works.
Google is circumventing the program I have on my site to limit access to my copyrighted works. They are disseminating our copyrighted works. How is this NOT criminal?
With our images so easy to download we are facing even worse issues with copyright infringement.
Webmasters are furious because of these changes. Look at what has happened to my own stats:
This graph represents viewers that have come to my blog view Google referrals, the red dot is shown for the date of January 25th which is when this asinine change Google made was done. I had 86% fewer referrals from January 24th thru January 29th through JUST Google searches. Google is saying this change is good for the webmasters. How can that be? Does Google think we are all that ignorant?
I do not have ads that generate income on my sites but many webmasters do and now they are losing money because people don’t even have to go to your site to view all the “pretty pictures”. Even Google is losing money for the sites that have Google Ad Sense ads on them, how stupid is that?
Google has made a serious mistake, they are looking at class action lawsuits being filed against their company. As a photographer and copyright holder I’d be happy to join any and all of those class action law suits against Google.
The way I see it Google is crapping on our rights as artists, creators and photographers. And I am furious about it.
More information can be found here about these changes:
An article in the LATimes (I commented, they have not approved my comment at the time I am writing this)
Google’s own Blog Post about this: http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.ca/2013/01/faster-image-search.html (Yes, I commented there too) The people that do like the changes seem to be the viewers (and some image thieves) but all of the “publishers” are angry about it. Even the sleazy wallpaper site owners who steal OUR images.
Google’s post about this on G+
NaturePhotographers.net: Google “Images” change hurting websites and photographers
DPReview.com: Google updates Image Search with preview panel
Notice that Google has NOT responded to people’s questions about this change.
It is my opinion that Google has crossed the line and that they have become the world’s largest scraper site. They have sunk lower than the nastiest image thieves.
I am checking into ways I can prevent Google from offering my full-sized images up to the image thieves right on Google’s Image Search pages and I am NOT alone. Webmasters, photographers, artists and more are all seriously considering blocking Google’s robots from indexing our images. I am considering activating a WordPress plugin to prevent hot linking for images on my blog. I may have to go back and re-upload much smaller versions of all of my images on this blog and put huge copyright notices on each image.
You bet I am upset. Google has gone too far and I am simply not willing to take a back seat about this issue.