Google Displays “Licensable” Badges in Image Search
September 5, 2020
Article Overview10min read
To help people use images on the web responsibly, Google recently rolls out new features – “Licensable” badges and new usage rights filter in its Images Search Results. These new updates would benefit the creator behind the image, as it will give all of the relevant information about the photographer behind the work, help people both identify photos that can be licensed as well as how to properly license them.
With a seemingly infinite number of images online, finding the right image to use, and knowing how to use that image sensibly, is a complicated task. The new Licensable Badge displayed by Google over the image thumbnails in search results aims to make this job easier. It makes it easier for image buyers to find images – where the publisher or image creator provided licensing information – they can license.
After collaborating with the Center of the Picture Industry (CEPIC) and other news and image associations, Google has been testing the Licensable Badge since February 2020. As a way to raise awareness of image licensing and help image owners sell and get credit for their photos, Google began displaying this badge over the images in search results. When you select a badged image to view, Google will display a link to the license details of the image.
You’ll also be able to find a link where you can purchase or license the image – if image creators/publishers provided such information. This link can lead to a completely separate website, where the image is originally found- for instance, an image published in a blog post can have a purchase/license link that leads to a Shutterstock image page.
This live feature is available on desktop and mobile across all regions and languages in which Google Image search is available.
New Usage Rights Filter
Along with licensable badges, Google also rolls out another feature, where you can filter results to only return those images that have licensing information. The older version of the filter for usage rights include options such as not filtered by license, labeled for reuse with modification, labeled for reuse, and so on, which Google has removed from its image search tools.
Here is a screenshot of the old filter for “Usage Rights”:
Instead, users can now select images that have either of two licenses or all from the Usage Rights dropdown menu in Image search. The two types of licenses are:
1. Creative Commons licenses
2. Commercial & other licenses
When a user clicks on the image from the Google Images previews, it links to the license details page provided by the content publisher/creator. By choosing any of the license types, a user can learn how to acquire or purchase a license for the image.
Use of Structured Data Markup For Image Licensing
In order for images to display licensing information in Google’s image search results, the site where the image is published must be using image license structured data, a standardized format for providing information about a page, and classifying the page content.
As said earlier, Google announced it was beta testing image licensing information in search results back in February. The update was announced well in advance to give site owners time to organize their content by marking it up with the required structured data- either with structured data or IPTC photo metadata.
However, utilizing image license structured data is entirely optional as it will have no impact on search rankings. This has been confirmed by Google’s John Mueller and Danny Sullivan to site owners, back in February itself.
For more details about structured data, check out Google’s developer document.
Google’s latest updates are part of changes the company has made on its Images in recent years to make it more clear who the owner or copyright holder of the image is. These changes promote the sensible use of images on the web and may also help in reducing the misuse of images and accidental image theft. It can also be commonplace for photographers to increase revenues for their images.