Google Licensable Image Badge

Posted on 2/24/2020 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (1)

Since June 2018, CEPIC has been actively collaborating closely with Google, and later with IPTC, and DMLA to find a way to make Google Image Search users aware that certain image found need to be licensed.

At CEPIC’s event in Paris in August 2019 Google introduced the first iteration of the “Licensable Image Badge” that would appear in the bottom left hand corner of any image that needs to be licensed. The user can then click on the badge and they will be taken to the site where they can license the image, assuming that the information about where to go has been inserted in the IPTC header or in

On Wednesday February 26th at 3pm EST there will be an online Zoom meeting on Google Images Licensable Badge – Nuts & Bolts with Doug Dawirs, Senior Technical Adviser of the DMLA and hosted along with industry experts to explain, and gather input, on the upcoming UI, and IPTC changes.

To register in advance for this meeting go here:   DMLA members are invited to attend to learn about the changes, and provide questions and recommendations for the Working Group to bring back to Google. This meeting is for DMLA MEMBERS ONLY.

Issues to Consider

The user doesn’t have to find the image using Google Image Search. If a user grabs an image from anywhere, and that image file has embedded IPTC license info, that image will appear with the badge when the pilferer's page is found and indexed by Google. (It may not appear on the pilferer’s page, if anyone other than Google happens to go to that page.)

Presumably, all images on a photographer’s website, or a stock agency website, could also show the “Licensable Image Badge” in every search because they would have the information in the IPTC header. Photographers may not want to post images on their own site without the IPTC information for fear that someone might grab the image from their site and use it without permission. Some photographers may feel that the Image Badge distracts from the visual impact of their images.

In addition, placing the new information or code in the IPTC header of all the images in collections will be a lot of additional work for both photographers and agencies. Photographers will need to insure that all agencies that represent the work are proactive in this regard.

Photographers may put information in the header of images on their own site that indicates that potential users should contact them directly, and not some other organization that might represent their work. Once a digital file is delivered to an agency the agency will surely replace the photographer’s information with their own as each badge can only have one, not several links.

In some cases, web developers strip IPTC information from images to make the file smaller and speed up search. Agencies sometimes do this also. People who steal images may rarely reprocess them since they are already optimized for web presentation. On the other hand, agencies may want maximum search speeds on their sites and be reluctant to place the revised IPTC header on all thumbnail image. They might leave the header on preview and deliverable image files, but not on thumbnails. Your agency’s strategy will be important to understand.

More and more image users are going to Google first to find the images the images they need. If some images have badges and others don’t the searcher will be able to quickly determine which images are free to use and which aren’t. There will be a period where images that have been licensed to a user previously before the new coding information was added will appear to be available free of charge even though they should be licensed.

It is unclear whether Google will enable users to search (a.k.a. filter) for only those images that are free.

For more about the whole concept and to see how the “Licensable Image Badge” might look check out here and here.

Copyright © 2020 Jim Pickerell. The above article may not be copied, reproduced, excerpted or distributed in any manner without written permission from the author. All requests should be submitted to Selling Stock at 10319 Westlake Drive, Suite 162, Bethesda, MD 20817, phone 301-461-7627, e-mail: wvz@fpcubgbf.pbz


  • Jim Pickerell Posted Feb 25, 2020

    I made a mistake in indicating that the Wednesday call is open to everyone. It is for DMLA MEMBER ONLY!

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