Google has reached a deal to end Getty Images’ European complaint over photo copyrights, and it’s quite likely that you’ll notice the effects. A new agreement between the two will see Google obtain a “multi-year” license for Getty’s photos in its products in exchange for reforming its approach to copyright in image search.
Google will do more to highlight copyright attribution for the photos you find, so you’ll know whether or not you’d need to pay for a picture. It will also pull “view image” links for pictures to reduce the number of direct downloads.
In the European Commission complaint, Getty had accused Google of effectively being a one-stop piracy shop: you could easily download and view copyrighted photos without visiting the host site or understanding the legality of a download. Google has long had an option to filter photos by licensing rights, but that only helps if you already intend to honor image permissions. The changes likely won’t stop those determined to grab every image they want, but they may prevent ‘casual’ downloads from people who may only have a loose understanding of copyright.
The cost of the deal isn’t known. It’s no surprise that a deal exists at all, mind you. Google already has its plate full with EU matters, including a shopping-related antitrust fine and tax disputes. The Getty deal gets the copyright complaint out of the way and prevents it from complicating an already complicated situation.