Google adds a usage rights tool in its Image Search to help users find images protected by Creative Commons and other fair use licenses. The move should help the search engine giant fortify its position as a company that respects copyright holders as it seeks to fend off a Justice Department inquiry over its Google Book Search deal.
Google July 9 made another overture to make life easier
for Web content creators, adding a new feature to Google Image Search that lets
bloggers find free images that are available to share and modify for free.
The move constitutes Google's latest olive branch to
artistic license and copyright owners, and could be one of the efforts Google
points to should it find itself having to counter copyright infringement issues
over its Google Book Search agreement.
Bloggers can now restrict their Image Search results to photos
that have been tagged with licenses such as Creative Commons, a nonprofit group
that lets users use and build on the works of others while respecting copyright
laws, the GNU Free Documentation license, or are in the public domain.
Creative Commons licenses allow artists to specify the
ways others may use their work, but the licenses are very clear about how the
work may be used according to the artists' wishes. Artists can license their
images for general reuse, or strictly for noncommercial reuse. Artists can also
decide whether or not to grant people the right to modify or remix their
Users can enable this new usage rights feature by going
to Google's advanced image search page
and selecting the type of license they'd like to
search for under the "Usage rights" section. Thereafter, results should
be restricted to images marked with CC or other licenses. Once a user confirms
the license of the image and makes sure that their use complies with the terms
of the license, users can reuse the image.
However, while this utility picks out images that are tagged
with licenses that authorize reuse, Google stressed that users still have to
verify that the licensing information is accurate. Read more about the new
Image Search on TechMeme here
"We can help you take the first step towards finding
these images, but we can't guarantee that the content we linked to is actually
in the public domain, or available under the license," wrote Google
Software Engineers Lance Huang and George Ruban in a blog post
Naturally, the Creative Commons representatives were
thrilled with Google's new Image Search tool. Every time a technology provider
implements technology that helps uphold Creative Commons licenses, it lends
greater validity to the cause to foster fair use.
"This is a huge step forward for the future of image
search on the Web, so congratulations to the Google team on another great CC
implementation!" Creative Commons rep Fred Benenson
wrote in a blog
The move is a huge step for Google, which has not always
endeared itself to copyright holders in the past and may soon have to defend
itself against a formal inquiry
by the U.S. Justice Department over Google Book Search, its sweeping plan to digitize the world's books and make
them accessible to users and libraries over the Internet for fees.
Google and the Authors Guild raised eyebrows last October
their settlement of a class-action lawsuit, which the Authors Guild
and the Association of American Publishers filed against Google in 2005.
consumer rights advocates and other parties expressed concern such a deal would
grant Google too much power in the online book realm, particularly over "orphan
works," or books that are out of print and whose authors or rights holders are