Announcing a seemingly minor tweak through a Tweet, Google said it will remove the View Image button.
This is evidently the company's effort to curb direct saving of images that users often resort to. "Today, we will be launching some changes on Google Images to help connect users and useful websites. This will include removing the View Image button. The Visit button remains, so users can see images in the context of the webpages they're on," read the Tweet from the Google Search Liaison handle.
In two images, it illustrates how the only options available now when one right-clicks or long presses the image are the 'visit page,' 'share,' and 'save' options.
This change will plug a big hole in the plagiarism issues that various photographers, publishers, and stock image sites faced as users had the provision to save the high-resolution version of an image directly, without visiting the source website.
Now, however, one must visit the owner or publisher's site and save the image from there. While protecting the images from illegal downloading is still the publisher's responsibility if a user tries to save the image from the site, what Google has contributed is adding one additional step that would compel users to at least visit the publisher's site.
This step, it is expecting, will make people less likely to steal copyrighted material.
This may well have been Google's response to a complaint by Getty in 2016, wherein the former was accused of indulging in anti-competitive practices within Google Images, and "distorting search results in favour of its own services" by enabling users to skirt the step of visiting source stock websites if they want to download a particular image.
"Because image consumption (in Google Images) is immediate, once an image is displayed in high-resolution, large format, there is little impetus to view the image on the original source site," Getty's press statement read.
Interestingly enough, Google has now signed a new multi-year global licensing partnership with Getty Images in order to use its photos for Google's various internal creative needs.