Google and a persistent photographer each provide a victory for artists’ rights
Beginning today, May 27, 2020, Google Images will display image rights metadata just under an image’s preview rather than hiding it behind a link. And in a separate victory for artists rights metadata, website hosting company SquareSpace has announced better support for rights metadata.
In late 2018, Google Images began to support embedded IPTC metadata that identifies the photographer and copyright owner of an image. (As long as that information isn’t stripped away by the website that published the image.) If an image contains rights information, users could click on a link for “Image Credit” information to see who shot the picture and who owns the copyright.
The new feature – live today – presents the information right under the picture.
If there’s no rights metadata on the image, users will still see “Images may be subject to copyright”.
The Google Images team told the IPTC’s website that, “We are committed to helping people understand the nature of the content they’re looking at on Google Images. This effort to make IPTC-related information more visible is one more step in that direction.”
Google’s new presentation will help educate and empower honest users of the web about copyright. Accordingly, this blog applauds enthusiastically. Respect.
More good news
Early this year, Google announced that it would introduce another new rights-related feature in Google Images. Driven again by embedded IPTC metadata in a picture or by Schema.org markup on a webpage, this one flags pictures that might be legally available for use. Images that carry appropriate information to facilitate contact between a would-be user and the image’s owner will display a “Licensable” badge. A link to the image owner will be provided.
(Googe’s Licensable feature is currently in beta. It was slated for release by now, but according to the latest from Google, the COVID-19 pandemic has slipped the date back to sometime in the summer.)
Photographer Penny Gentieu is working with her daughter Anna Friemoth, also a photographer, on a new website. They’re using the Squarespace web hosting service.
Squarespace markets heavily to photographers. YouTube watchers will instantly recognize the brand. Seemingly every second photography channel lately features host-read endorsement ads pitching Squarespace as a platform for photographers’ websites.
Gentieu and Friemoth were excited by Google’s new support for photographers. But they were mortified to discover that Squarespace stripped the requisite metadata from photos.
After a less than successful interaction with Squarespace’s customer service department, Gentieu wrote a story pleading with the provider to stop deleting the metadata. The article appeared on PetaPixel, a large website devoted to photo industry news. It spawned a spirited comments chain, even including a response from Squarespace CEO Anthony Casalena.
Within two days of the PetaPixel editorial, Squarespace wrote to Friemoth: “Hello there, We’re replying here to let you know that we fixed this issue. Going forward, this metadata will not be removed from images uploaded to the platform.”
Gentieu’s tenacity. Google’s improved commitment to artists’ rights. Unheralded hard work behind the scenes by the IPTC. PetaPixel’s reach. And Squarespace’s responsiveness. And we all benefit from two significant advancements for photographers and honest users of the internet in a single week. To each of you, a heartfelt thank you!
If you are a photographer, please, please make sure you are embedding proper metadata in your photos. If you have a website, do the right thing and make sure your site respects metadata. You can learn about doing those things right here in this blog. And if you have more good news for our industry, let us know in the comments.