Sports Image Search: Google Eliminates ‘View Image’ Button

If you carry out Google Image searches on a regular basis, you may have noticed a rather significant change that’s crept into the equation over the past few weeks. When searching for images, like for example sports images, of any kind, the ‘View Image’ button is now notable by its absence.

Announcing the modification by way of a Twitter post not long ago, Google had the following to say:

“Today we’re 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.”

“The Search by Image button is also being removed. Reverse image search *still works* through the way most people use it, from the search bar of Google Images.”

If this doesn’t mean a great deal to you, it probably won’t affect you, either. The long and short of it is that with the removal of the ‘View Image’ button, it will no longer be possible to click on sports images in a Google Image search and have them pop up in a separate window in their full-size form. Instead, you’ll need to click through to the website from which the image was sourced.

The question being – why has Google gone ahead and removed a button used by millions of people worldwide, every single day?

A Question of Copyright

In a nutshell, it all comes down to copyright protection and the potential for infringement. Getty Images in particular has been known to speak out quite vocally over recent years, with regard to how easy Google makes it for people to steal other people’s photography and imagery.

Simply by clicking the ‘View Image’ button, web users were able to copy or download pretty much any image they came across, irrespective of whether they had the owner’s authorisation to do so.

The intention of Google seems to be two-fold in nature. For one thing, removing the button will make it at least slightly less straightforward for people to illegally download, distribute and use images that don’t belong to them. In addition, those looking to access said images will have no choice but to click through to the website of the rightful owner. Something that in turn could make a big difference to the incoming traffic volumes of the website in question.

Unsurprisingly, praise and criticism have been equally strong on both sides of the fence. While many have saluted Google for taking such affirmative action, others have gone no less than ballistic.

Arguments In Favour of Removal

As far as advocates of the move are concerned, the whole thing is something of a no-brainer. If you want to access the photography and imagery of any given business or website, you should at least have to pay the website a visit. Google can show you the way, but it’s only fair that you actually head over to the website itself.

Not only this, but anything that makes it possible to steal the intellectual property of other people cannot realistically be considered a good thing. After all, if you’re going to invest heavily in the production of outstanding sports images, you don’t want them being stolen and used without your permission. So as far as many publishers are concerned, the move is not only welcome, it’s also long overdue.

Arguments Against Removal

As for those on a more critical the side of the fence, hundreds have already taken to social media to vent their frustrations at Google. Some of whom claim to be fundamentally reliant on the ‘View Image’ button and claim to have only ever used it to access and procure royalty-free images that anyone can use. To them, their lives have simply been made more complicated for no good reason.

Particularly given the fact that there is still a quick and easy way to get around the removal of the button. When you right click it, you can select “open image in new tab” or “view image” (or whatever your browser’s equivalent option is) and there it is. So while it may be noble and proactive of Google to make efforts to prevent copyright infringement, they haven’t exactly taken things to extremes or addressed the problem in its entirety.

Still, it pretty much goes without saying that Google isn’t in the habit of backtracking on these kinds of updates and amendments. Irrespective of personal opinions, therefore, it seems the ‘View Image’ button really is gone for good.

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