Seems that Google is pushing through some image search innovation lately. First, it was the color search, released a few weeks back. Thanks to a little color palette next to the search tool, you can specify which dominant color you would like to see in your search result.

google color result

Not groundbreaking technology. Companies like Idee, Inc or LTU technologies already offer that type of solution.  Unlike these two companies, Google does not yet offer the possibility to add colors to each other. That is, if someone was looking for something Red and Blue. I am sure that is in the pipeline.

Another feature is the Similar search. You execute a text search, it displays the result. Click “similar”  under an image you like and Google displays all similar images. Again, not groundbreaking technology. Again, companies like LTU  and Idee, Inc already license the same technology. Some photo agencies have also started offering this tool ( Getty, Masterfile, ) while others are working on it.

Google similar search

What is important here, is that if Google makes these tool mainstream, then clients to a photo agency will expect to see them on individual sites. It will soon be unacceptable for a commercial stock photo agency not to offer color and similar search. Since these can be easily adapted to an existing database, (LTU Technologies has a great and easy solution), there is really no reason not to offer them.

Finally, Google has also released ( boy they are busy these guys) a “News Timelime ” search which allows to, as per the Wall Street Journal : ” …presents the globs of content already in Google News ? including articles, blogs, photos, scanned newspapers, magazine covers and more ? in a draggable timeline. Users who search for a topic like the Iraq War will see a history of articles, photos and videos arranged by date, week or month and can scroll through them quickly with their mouse. Users can refine their search to specific sorts of news, like newspapers or blogs, and search some non-news sources like Wikipedia or movies.”

News Timeline

Not a lot of titles are offered yet, but however, this raises an interesting issue. Images that had been buried under the successive pages or fresher news will now resurface in the open and under a different format. Will the photo industry remain silent or ask for additional license fee. How many agreements does this one break ?

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2 Thoughts on “Google is all out

  1. jcdill on May 10, 2009 at 3:05 pm said:

    You wrote:

    “Images that had been buried under the successive pages or fresher news will now resurface in the open and under a different format. Will the photo industry remain silent or ask for additional license fee.”

    I’m curious why you think someone is due an additional licensing fee. If the image provides value to the viewer they will click thru to the article. If they don’t click through, the image didn’t add value, so why would the photographer be due an additional fee?

    IMHO there’s a big disconnect between “my work has value” and “pay me for every use” and “fair use” in the photography licensing industry (and in the music industry).

    I see Google’s search results page as you show above as fair use, and no additional fee is required to be paid to the copyright owners of the words or images shown in the search results. If the searcher clicks thru to any of those pages then that produces a page view on the site that has licensed the words and images, and if the photographer or writer has a licensing arrangement where they get paid differently depending on traffic then it may lead to additional pay. And if they don’t have such an agreement, that’s not Google’s problem.

    If you go to the library and look thru the books on the shelves the authors and photographers don’t get paid anything extra because you “viewed” their work. Google is really just a bit electronic library index.

  2. When you look at a book in a library, the publisher has paid a license fee for usage in the book, regardless of how many people see the book. when you look at an image on Google Search, the image has been ripped out of its context and inserted into a new context and no one has paid for that.
    You might see a value to it but Google certainly does as it sells advertising next to this new usage.
    Do not be mistaken, Google is not your friendly library but rather a huge business making millions of dollars thanks to others content. They have, as you say, profited from the “fair use” act. I am not a proponent of Fair use and beleive all and every images should be properly licensed, even for 1$, unless the photographer has waived its rights.
    Hope that helps

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