Is Google Promoting Photo Piracy?

If we are to believe Getty Images, Google is promoting photo piracy with its image search functionality. Both parties are kind of veterans in regard to court battles, Getty Images being known for aggressively fighting against copyright infringement, and Google being sued for breaching copyright in various cases such as through Google Book Search.

In fact, Getty Images has been very successful in the recent past, forcing Microsoft to pull the plug on the Bing image widget in a very amiable fashion. To be precise, by signing a partnership deal.

But this time, there’s a chance both parties won’t become friends anytime soon. First of all, because the usage of Google’s image search is much higher than the usage of Bing’s image widget could have ever been. I would even think that most of you don’t even knew, until now, that it had existed.



Second, and that’s my opinion, it seems problematic to blame Google when people use images found through their search engine. When clicking on a photo one gets the source, some meta info plus the info that “Images may be subject to copyright.” Thus the argument of “promoting privacy” sounds a bit exaggerated.

Besides, nowadays, most people – especially those who use right-click to copy a photo online – are well informed about copyright law and therefore cannot blame their “piracy tool” for wrong-doing. Especially since there are enough free resources and ways (e.g. Getty Images embed feature) to work with.

But I’m not a lawyer and following this lawsuit will be definitely interesting.

At this point, the only way to prevent images from being victim to photo pirates is the implementation of visible watermarks, so it seems. What do you think?