Does Google Images Perpetuate Piracy? You Bet!

Imagine a world where after you found an image online you had been searching for, information pills you couldn’t right click and “Save Image As”. Hard to imagine that world isn’t it? We have all become so used to being able to just right click and use an image it has become second nature to our digital behavior. What would you do to get that image?

Well, recipe you’d have to buy it or shoot it yourself if you wanted that image. But this isn’t the world we live in, but we need to acknowledge this is the way it SHOULD be done but rarely is because it’s just so damn easy to steal stuff from the web.

The digital age changed everything and Google is to thank for so many of the innovations that have allowed us to connect, work and share with people around the world, but some of their practices need to be examined, especially when it pertains to copyright infringement.

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On a grand scale, just imagine what could happen to the economy if people started paying content creators for their work. There would be a photography e-commerce equivalent to iTunes almost overnight which could perceivably generate billions of dollars. This could actually happen if Google simply disabled the right-click “Save Image As” functionality.

Pause… Ponder… Digest.

This could actually happen. The endless supply of free images would shrink exponentially and everyone would have to turn to Creative Commons for the same generic stock content, buy it or shoot it him or herself. After all, you can’t publish all text these days. Few will read that long blog post or news article without an image to suck him you in.  Another possibility is that photographers could actually start earning money again and fewer Getty Images Demand Letters would need to be sent. Oh, you haven’t gotten a Demand Letter yet? Buyer – oops, I meant Pirate — beware!

Getty is all about copyright protection. Ken Mueller ( @kmueller62 ) wrote about this recently and explained that pulling that image off the Internet could cost you.  Getting a letter demanding payment of $1K might surprise you but it’s actually a reasonable request that wouldn’t be necessary if images weren’t so readily accessible. Do a quick search and you’ll see this happens frequently because people simply right-click and “Save Image As.”  Simply put, Google Images is perpetuating this piracy. There’s just no denying it.

I know people will continue to download photos and videos just like they do with music but there are ways to prevent it. Let’s start pushing Google to do the right thing and simply disable the right-click functionality on image search results. Let’s get permission to use photos and videos or buy them like we’re supposed to. What’s the worst that can happen? You actually dust of that old camera or fire up your smartphone and get out there yourself? Sounds like a good excuse to get some fresh air to me!




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