Standing up against Google’s new Image Search and the copyright issues involved – Class action lawsuit

///Standing up against Google’s new Image Search and the copyright issues involved – Class action lawsuit

No photo for this post but it is important to any one who photographs and posts their images to the web. It is important to artists and  graphic designers.

Please feel free to pass on the link to anyone you know who is a photographer or an artist.

Since Google made changes to its Image Search on January 25th many photographers and artists have voiced complaints about the drop in visitors to their sites, for those that have ads they have had a drop in income from those ads and one of the other complaints is about Google hot linking to the full sized version of the images which allows infringers to easily illegally download those images to their computers.

I have written two posts about the changes Google made to their Image Search and many other photographers/webmasters have too because Google has over-stepped with their new UI.

Is Google’s New Image Search Violating Their Own Policies? The Law?

Google needs to remove the hotlinks on Image Search to our files immediately, remove the “View Original File” button and stop facilitating the unauthorized distribution of our Copyrighted work. Anything less is criminal.

Google has become the biggest image scraper of the Millennium

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.

NOT COOL, GOOGLE. I have no doubt there will be a legal challenge here, as I simply can’t understand the legality of Google itself effectively distributing CONTENT from other people’s websites.

I’m still riled up, I’ve been searching out other blog posts, following a thread that Google started themselves on Google Groups and watching the traffic to my blog and web site drop while seeing the rates of infringement of my images increase. Last week alone I sent in over 100 DMCA takedown requests to Pinterest. That is JUST Pinterest.

WE have to stand up to Google to make this stop.

I said I would be happy to take part in a Class Action suit against Google and due to a recent conversation with an attorney I realize that class action suit is entirely possible and I want to inform as many photographers as I can about it.

I had a very interesting conversation today with attorney William R. Restis of Finkelstein & Krinsk LLP that was very informative about the possibility of a class action law suit against Google with the focus being on the copyright issues that their new image search raises.

What do we need to do to become involved with a class action law suit against Google for the changes they made to their Image Search?

Contact William R. Restis of Finkelstein & Krinsk LLP. This is the same firm that filed a class action law suit against Instagram in December of 2012 for their change in Terms of Service, a suit that forced Instagram to reconsider those changes to their TOS.

I urge you to contact William R. Restis and hear what he has to say.

William R. Restis
Finkelstein & Krinsk LLP
The Koll Center
501 W. Broadway, Suite 1250
San Diego, CA 92101-3579
Email: [email protected]
TEL:  619.238.1333, Ext. 25
FAX: 619.238.5425

We do have to stand up against Google on this matter to protect our copyrights.

  • Have visits to your site decreased dramatically since Google made the changes to their Image Search?
  • Have you seen a decrease in revenue from ads on your site since Google made the changes to their Image Search?
  • Have you seen an increase in image theft and copyright infringements since Google made the changes to their Image Search?

Please send this URL to other photographers, let’s join together and let Google know we aren’t taking this laying down.



  1. k Madison Moore August 8, 2014 at 8:17 am

    So today is August 8, 2014 and where does all of this stand? Class Action or no? How can it not be?? We will get fined and have to pay heavy legal fees if we infringe on others but Google can pay of any lawsuit or lawyers without it hurting their 350 Billion dollar bank account so the hell with us! I support a 100% disabled veteran on my paintings. 80% of my business came from Google Images, now I have NO business other than my private collectors. I am devastated! No-ne cares about the little guy. I worked for 8 years to build a great image file on google images and now I get nothing from it! Something has to be done.

    • Mia McPherson August 8, 2014 at 7:05 pm

      Kmadisonmorroe, unfortunately the law firm that had contacted me about the class action suit decided not to pursue the law suit. Google is really hurting a lot of us.

  2. eric smith January 7, 2014 at 6:38 pm

    Google was sued in the past for copyright infringement but the court ruled because they were only showing small thumbnails, that it was fair use.

    Now they have exactly done the opposite, and show the full sized picture, directly in violation of what saved them from this earlier lawsuit.

    This seems like a slam dunk to me. Why hasnt anyone sued the shit out of them? There is precedent to kill them on this

    READ THIS:,_Inc._v._Google_Inc.

    • Mia McPherson January 7, 2014 at 6:44 pm

      Eric, the class action attorney’s decided not to file suit against Google. Maybe they will reconsider it. I know for a fact that I have had tons more of my images infringed since Google made the change last year. I ought to charge them for the time it takes to get those infringements taken care of.

  3. ashleyw December 8, 2013 at 8:33 am

    You might find this article helpful:

    I’m sure there are some decent robots.txt WP plugins out there as well.

  4. Jonathan Timar July 31, 2013 at 3:42 pm

    I think this is totally unacceptable, and huge abuse of power by Google. For the good of everyone, Google needs to be forced to spin off it’s search engine into a separate entity. Google is now stealing the peoples images and displaying them at full resolution is their search results. How is that not theft? It’s astounding the level is greed and disrespect for people who work hard to create content and intellectual property.

    I wrote a guide on how to stop Google image search from stealing your images. I hope some may find it useful, but it’s a shame that it is necessary. At very least it’s a stop gap until someone successfully sues the pants off the beast (Google). You can find it on my blog for all of those who this might help.

    • Mia McPherson July 31, 2013 at 5:54 pm


      I am so sick of Google and their image search, the number of images I find stolen has increased a lot since the change was made.

      Thanks for sharing your guide, when I find a few minutes I will have to try it out.

      • Jonathan Timar September 8, 2013 at 12:35 pm

        You’re welcome Mia, I hope you find it useful.

  5. Sharon July 20, 2013 at 7:54 am

    While as an artist this bothers me as an artist, I’m more bothered by this as a mom. I try to pretty much limit pictures of my kids online, but I do sew and sometimes post an image of my child in some article of clothing I’ve made on my sewing group on Flickr. Some parents also just have Flickr accounts or blogspot pages, etc to share photos of kids w/ relatives (this is the only reason I’m still on Facebook. . I’m too disorganized to remember to update all the relatives separately. I think this could become a big issue for parents as well.

    • Sharon July 20, 2013 at 7:55 am

      apologies for the grammar error. . I can’t edit my post. . “While this bothers me as an artist. . ” is what i meant to say. . .

    • Mia McPherson July 20, 2013 at 8:06 am

      Yes Sharon, what is to say that someone like Arne Olav won’t put your child’s head on a Gorilla? Or a Donkey? Without your consent?

  6. jafabrit June 1, 2013 at 11:34 am

    I saw a dramatic drop in visits and took me a while to figure it out,but what really bothers me is how image search makes it possible for my images to be pinned,or shared,etc and identifying info stripped from the image file.I discovered reverse image search and was shocked by what I found.grrrrr how do I get involved in a way that is effective and supportive.

    • Mia McPherson June 1, 2013 at 2:53 pm

      Jafabrit, I don’t think complaining to Google directly has done one bit of good. I hope that this class action lawsuit is filed soon.

      I hate sites like Pinterest that encourage their members to infringe upon our copyrights and most of those members do not even realize that is they infringe and a lawsuit is filed by the rightful owner of the image that Pinterest holds the member responsible and that the member could end up paying any court costs incurred for Pinterest plus fees for research and due diligence TO Pinterest plus any damages that they court says is owed.

  7. Rohrerbot March 1, 2013 at 7:53 pm

    Mia, Kathie told me about your post and I’m with you on this one. My traffic has gone WAAAAY down since those changes took place. Thank you for getting all this info together.

    • Mia McPherson March 3, 2013 at 3:06 pm

      Chris, I am more concerned with how easy Google has made stealing our images. I have protections on my blog and Google has just by passed those. That isn’t right at all.

  8. Michael February 28, 2013 at 8:56 am

    In Germany the new Google image search isn’t online. But more then 1.300 people signed an online petition against the new kind of image search. This are people from Germany, Austria and Swiss. (German language)

    By the way, Yahoo Germany submitted a declaration to cease and desist. So yesterday Yahoo moved from the new to the old version of the image search in Germany.

    • Mia McPherson February 28, 2013 at 9:25 am


      I was reading the posts about this on the site you linked earlier today, I’m so glad to hear that more than 1.300 people signed the petition there. Thanks for adding the link to my post about this matter there.

      I will be in touch with the Class Action attorney, William Restis, today as I have a few more questions I want to ask him before signing the Class Representative Retainer to become a plaintiff in this suit.

  9. Ingrid February 27, 2013 at 8:53 pm

    Mia, I’ll pass this along, too — and make the contact. Thanks for doing the hard work of getting to this point!

    • Mia McPherson March 3, 2013 at 2:48 pm

      Thank you Ingrid. I signed the legal contract to be a Class Representative though that does not mean I will be selected as one.

  10. Mark February 27, 2013 at 9:53 am

    I support this action! My site is down 70% traffic and everywhere I read on the internet users and publishers do not have anything good to say about the new Google Image Search. I have over 10000 photos on my site, my photos, people like seeing them, but at the moment in Google and all other places they are heavily watermarked until this problem of search engines wanting to be Facebook is sorted out.

    • Mia McPherson February 27, 2013 at 2:41 pm

      Thanks Mark, if we don’t take a stand now Google will just make worse choices that involve our copyrights in the future.

  11. Jordan McClements February 27, 2013 at 12:12 am

    I’m in the UK – so not sure I can take part in a class action lawsuit in the US. But I’ll tweet this a few more times, stick it on my blog, and email my details to your man.
    Google are *definitely* out of line.

  12. Susan February 26, 2013 at 7:18 pm

    Wow, that is terrible, I went and searched my own name after reading this post and found several of my photos being used without permission too, I hope a lawsuit proceeds this is outright theft!!!

  13. Ron Dudley February 26, 2013 at 7:10 pm

    Google crossed over the line with this one and I fervently hope this potential class action gets legs. Restis already has my contact info and I’ll do everything I can to support this effort.

    • Mia McPherson February 26, 2013 at 7:12 pm

      That is terrific Ron!

  14. Mitch February 26, 2013 at 4:18 pm

    Good for you, Mia! I’ll definitely use the supplied email link to contact Attorney Restis. Google is waaaaaay out of line; if they’re not slowed down, they will only roll over us harder in the future….Mitch

    • Mia McPherson February 26, 2013 at 4:51 pm

      Exactly Mitch, if they get away with this, what is next? I think the more people we get involved with this, the better!

  15. John Randall February 26, 2013 at 5:18 pm

    Thank you for the information Mia. I’ll pass it along.

    • Mia McPherson February 26, 2013 at 5:25 pm

      Thank you John, as artists we all need to put a stop to this.

      • John Randall February 26, 2013 at 9:10 pm

        So True !

Comments are closed.