Google’s new image search: much ado about nothing or photo theft?


Since Google adjusted its image search more than two weeks ago, voices of criticism have been raised all over the net, accusing the www giant of stealing photos. In the meantime, Google’s own Webmaster Central Blog fills with offensive comments coming from photographers and other content creators, who feel deceived by the company. Elsewhere, it’s even worse, i.e. see comments (over 650!) to the related article on Read at your own risk! But what is actually wrong with the new Google Image search?


The new image search on
Image: Screenshot

The first thing you notice is that the website, from which a picture was taken, no longer shows up. Instead the images in a highly usable size (e.g. not thumbnails) appear on Google’s grey background with no source website being visible.

You can check this out at and compare with the previous version at This is what the picture would look like in the old image search:

Alte_Bildersuche_GoogleThe old image search on
Image: Screenshot

The website owner receives no clicks for his pictures (note that most of the websites with high-quality image content are financed through advertisement), yet he still has to pay for the bandwidth because the pictures are on his server. Google argues that using four instead of two links makes it easy to access source site. Well, I for one didn’t feel compelled to click on a link while using Google’s new image search. In my opinion the redesigned version has got a negative impact on the web traffic.

Have you tried the new image search yet?

  1. I think this is totally unacceptable, and huge abuse of power by Google. For the good of everyone, Google needs to be forced to spin off it’s search engine into a separate entity. Google is now stealing the peoples images and displaying them at full resolution is their search results. How is that not theft? It’s astounding the level is greed and disrespect for people who work hard to create content and intellectual property.

    I wrote a guide on how to stop Google image search from stealing your images. I hope some may find it useful, but it’s a shame that it is necessary.


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