Make the licensing information for your images visible on Google Images

Monday, August 31, 2020

For the last few years, we've collaborated with the image licensing industry to raise awareness of licensing requirements for content found through Google Images. In 2018, we began supporting IPTC Image Rights metadata; in February 2020 we announced a new metadata framework through and IPTC for licensable images. Since then, we've seen widespread adoption of this new standard by websites, image platforms and agencies of all sizes. Today, we're launching new features on Google Images which will highlight licensing information for images, and make it easier for users to understand how to use images responsibly.

What is it?

Images that include licensing information will be labeled with a "Licensable" badge on the results page. When a user opens the image viewer (the window that appears when they select an image), we will show a link to the license details and/or terms page provided by the content owner or licensor. If available, we'll also show an additional link that directs users to a page from the content owner or licensor where the user can acquire the image.

Google Images search results with the licensable badge

We're also making it easier to find images with licensing metadata. We've enhanced the usage rights drop-down menu in Google Images to support filtering for Creative Commons licenses, as well as those that have commercial or other licenses.

Updated Usage Rights filter

What are the benefits to image licensors?

  • As noted earlier, if licensing metadata is provided from the image licensor, then the licensable badge, license details page and image acquisition page will be surfaced in the images viewer, making it easier for users to purchase or license the image from the licensor.
  • If an image resides on a page that isn't set up to let a user acquire it (for example, a portfolio, article, or gallery page), image licensors can link to a new URL from Google Images which takes the user directly to the page where they can purchase or license the image.
  • For image licensors, the metadata can also be applied by publishers who have purchased your images, enabling your licensing details to be visible with your images when they're used by your customers. (This requires your customers to not remove or alter the IPTC metadata that you provide them).

We believe this is a step towards helping people better understand the nature of the content they're looking at on Google Images and how they can use it responsibly.

How do I participate?

To learn more about these features, how you can implement them and troubleshoot issues, visit the Google developer help page and our common FAQs page.

To provide feedback on these features, please use the feedback tools available on the developer page for the licensable images features, the Google Webmaster Forum, and stay tuned for upcoming virtual office hours where we will review common questions.

What do image licensors say about these features?

"A collaboration between Google and CEPIC, which started some four years ago, has ensured that authors and rights holders are identified on Google Images. Now, the last link of the chain, determining which images are licensable, has been implemented thanks to our fruitful collaboration with Google. We are thrilled at the window of opportunities that are opening up for photography agencies and the wider image industry due to this collaboration. Thanks, Google."
- Alfonso Gutierrez, President of CEPIC

"As a result of a multi-year collaboration between IPTC and Google, when an image containing embedded IPTC Photo Metadata is re-used on a popular website, Google Images will now direct an interested user back to the supplier of the image," said Michael Steidl, Lead of the IPTC Photo Metadata Working Group. "This is a huge benefit for image suppliers and an incentive to add IPTC metadata to image files."
- Michael Steidl, Lead of the IPTC Photo Metadata Working Group

"Google's licensable image features are a great step forward in making it easier for users to quickly identify and license visual content. Google has worked closely with DMLA and its members during the features' development, sharing tools and details while simultaneously gathering feedback and addressing our members' questions or concerns. We look forward to continuing this collaboration as the features deploy globally."
- Leslie Hughes, President of the Digital Media Licensing Association

"We live in a dynamic and changing media landscape where imagery is an integral component of on