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Google removes ‘view image’ button from search results (theverge.com)
658 points by quotemstr on Feb 16, 2018 | hide | past | favorite | 374 comments

Quotes from @searchliaison:

"Today we're launching some changes on Google Images to help connect users and useful websites."

"Ultimately, Google Images is a way for people to discover information in cases where browsing images is a better experience than text."

Do you believe any of these statements? I am still surprised how easily corporations will hide their true motives, resolve any cognitive dissonance internally, and how easily others will forgive them.

I wonder how people within Google are feeling when this happens. And I don't mean "when a feature gets removed", there may be valid reasons to do that. But when the official communication about them contains manipulative statements such as above, how do employees who aren't allowed to speak up feel?

One of the follow up tweets is more honest:

>For those asking, yes, these changes came about in part due to our settlement with Getty Images this week (see also https://www.theverge.com/2018/2/15/17017864/google-removes-v... …). They are designed to strike a balance between serving user needs and publisher concerns, both stakeholders we value.


I'm perfectly fine with this, after all they have little choice because of the result from the Getty case, but now that option is gone they need to crack down on sites presenting different images when referred directly from Google than they present more generally: presenting an unaltered image to Google and a heavily watermarked one otherwise for instance, or sometimes the destination page redirecting off to something else if your request doesn't include a Google referrer or agent-string. These things are already against Google's policy and is basically the destination site being dishonest to the user (drawing people away from sites with the same content really but don't pretend to offer something else freely).

I noticed yesterday that you will get image results from YouTube but there’s no way to get the actual image it presents you. If you click on the search result it just takes you to the video.

So I guess they need to start by enforcing the rules on their own sites.

Thank you, very helpful! In Firefox you can make a Keyword Search shortcut for this by: - bookmark the above page - edit bookmark - replace <...video-id...> with "%s" - enter a keyword (e.g., "yi") - enter "yi 6e5B7EKVg48" in the location bar to find the image from a video (replace 6e5B7EKVg48 with your video's ID)

Good tip. I would add that maxresdefault.jpg returns a higher resolution image, e.g.: https://img.youtube.com/vi/HlxLo2sMnXg/maxresdefault.jpg

Google, just give me the option to ignore Getty images altogether.

Why does Google always think they know what is best for me?

> Why does Google always think they know what is best for me?

This is the entire ethos of the "AI Revolution" in tech. The algorithm "knows what is best for you". This will only get worse with more "AI" being applied to more tech.

This is my gripe with Facebook and why I stopped using it. Biaaaaootch, I added people to my friends list because I want to see their posts. Ditch the dang algorithm and literally just show me everyone’s posts, in chronological order. That’s all you literally have to do. Don’t worry about me getting annoyed by spam, idiots who abuse their status updates will be blocked or defriended by me and everyone else who isnt having it. It’s self-policing. My discretion and the discretion of people on the platform is better than your dumb algorithm. But now I don’t use your app at all, because you thought you knew what’s best for me, and I kept missing out on people’s posts that I did in fact want to see, and that pissed me off more than whatever you’re trying to keep off of my newsfeed.

Your value proposition is having my entire social network on one feed. You’ve done that. That’s all you have to do. Ditch the algorithm.

Yeah, the biggest problem with these types of algorithms is that they show that the application developers don't trust the user to know what they want and trust the user to fix their own problems.

It's one thing for an application to provide sensible defaults. It's another thing entirely if it just second guesses the user.

The sad thing is the algorithm fixed zero problems for me. And it introduced the problem of hiding things that I did in fact want to see.. for no good reason other than apparently for their engineers to feel like they did something. Because how can they justify their paychecks when the newsfeed sorting order hasn’t changed since its prime of ~2009?

I often see a great deal of contempt for users here on HN, why should Facebook etc. be any different?

You can view "most recent" posts and that will do exactly what you're saying you want.

You must not use that feature very often or else you would know that Facebook does not respect that setting. When you set it, come back in a day or two and they’ve switched it back. Because once again, they know what’s best for you. You don’t know what you want, even if it’s not default and you go through the trouble of turning it on.

Tried it and got tired of randomly noticing that it’s not showing me “most recent” any more, and not knowing at what point in time they had switched it back on me, and what I might have missed that I would have wanted to see during that time. You have to religiously go through the process of seeing if it’s set to “most recent” every time you visit. FOH.

Actually I didn't even know it's supposed to stay in the most recent settings. I just go and click on it every time I open FB.

you make it sound so easy. It’s a hassle. It’s not like it’s always switched off when you come back. Sometimes it is sometimes it isn’t. So you have to navigate to a switch even if you’re not going to toggle it just to be sure that you’re getting the experience that you had explicitly expressed you want by switching away from the default to begin with. Why does it even switch back? They don’t think you’re capable of making your own decisions?

I just go there every time and make sure it is switched the way I like. I never said it is easy nor that I agree with their way of doing things, but the fact that sometimes it is set up like I want it to be does not make it a bigger hassle, it's exactly the same.

Except for the fact that Facebook keeps changing that back

Not just the AI revolution. For over a decade, I've grown increasingly frustrated with software suffering from overly-clever syndrome.

I'd rather use software that is predictable than predictive.

Too bad those algorithms don't know when I'm yelling at my computer because it's fucking up

If only folks on HN wouldn’t be so paranoid about microphones...

The problem with AI is that we are building it, with all our biases.

They don't. You decided to use Google's image search service, and that's what you got.

I think other sites could follow the Getty precedent and sue Google so they have no choice, at least within USA. Still, the PR spin in the message is just funny, it really made me feel "empowered" and "excited" :D

DDG still works anyway, so it's not like I have no choice if I need to quickly find an image.

This. People can be angry at Google but they have to respect a ruling from a US judge. And you can bet that there are a lot of vultures out there willing to sue Google.

Today its Getty tomorrow some blogger hoping to make a dollar.

> they have to respect a ruling from a US judge

It's not the US, it's the EU, and it's not a ruling from a judge, it's an agreement directly with Getty.



Thanks for pointing this out!

I guess the enthusiasm regarding technology as a solution to the problems of humanity was unfounded and it needs to revert back to politics, hacking people...

1. Try adding "-getty" to your image search

2. For the more general problem of searching free images only try hitting tools -> usage rights and select as desired

Yes, but that doesn't enable the "view image" button.

Wow, that still works. I'd largely given up on + and - lately.

'+' is dead, but you can (usually?) fake its role via quote-wrapping individual words - it'll force their presence like a full quoted string, but won't require them in sequence.

'-' is still working. It also works with the 'site:' tag, so you can do things like '-site:w3schools.com'.

> -' is still working. It also works with the 'site:' tag, so you can do things like '-site:w3schools.com'

It would be interesting for google to globally A/B test “-site:w3schools.com” as a hidden default and see if their crawlers detect less overall brokenness in the web six months later.

It’ll work until they launch a Google- product.

I still use them (replace + with quotes around the word), along with searches for quoted words. Sometimes you have to click the "search for what I typed, not the spell-corrected version" button, though.

Every couple of months something like this happens and people bash the companies that did it while simultaneously there are posts where screams of how great AI will be at predicting what we want, and then executing it based on all the information harvesting.

One option is to go to advanced search, where you can change the search to restrict only to Free or other less restrictive licenses than commercial.

https://www.google.com/advanced_image_search?biw=1404&bih=67... as a sample, and more detail at https://support.google.com/websearch/answer/29508?p=ws_image...

You can already do this with search operators:

cat pictures -site:gettyimages.com

They do, just add -site:gettyimages.com to your search.

Because they know what is best for the least common denominator, if you aren't part of the target product pool, using them is a disservice to your-self.

You know, it's gotta be said that Google just shitting all over copyright just because they're big isn't ideal, either. They should be honest about their motivations, though.

Yeah, right. Because linking to an image on a publicy accessible web server is shitting all over copyright law. Also, it strongly implies that the link creator hates puppies.

Can we thank getty by popularizing free photography sites like unsplash? Any other alternatives?

OT-ish: for such questions there is an excellent web-app:


… reveals several services, but personally cannot judge. (TBH, haven't known even Unsplash -- thanks for that.)

It would be more honest if "in part" meant 99%-100% of the reason to do it.

It's the same shit that happened to Google Books, really.

I feel somewhat angry at this tweet. Not because the feature is gone but because they are daft enough to assume that they can sell this as an improvement to their users and anyone will believe it.

>> Not because the feature is gone but because they are daft enough to assume that they can sell this as an improvement to their users and anyone will believe it.

Imagine how users would feel if they said "We're making this change because people keep ripping off images via our search. Since the public can't be trusted to follow copyright law, we're not going to make it so easy to break."

I'm sure the public would eat that s* up and ask for seconds.

If nothing else, it would be refreshingly honest.

The issue is about closing a loophole. If it was framed that way people would still be upset, but not as upset in the same way as being treated like idiots.

I'm waiting for the first person to sue google because chrome allows people to view the source of the page violating their copyright, or right click save as to save an image from the site and thus violating copyright and google pitching that as an improvement to the browser

If the alternative would have been to disable the feature altogether, then this is an improvement.

But to make this clear, they'd probably have to disable the feature for 2 days "because of the Getty case", then come up with this as a compromise.

(Disclosure: I work for Google, but have nothing to do with that stuff nor any special insights)

To be more precise, eliminating convenience rather than removing the feature as a whole is preferable to removal, not an "improvement".

As an aside, I've often used "View Image" to access the image when the page itself didn't contain it. This actually hurts not only user experience, but also the actual success of the platform at its intended purpose.

I dont understand why they couldnt disable that feature for only companies that wanted it (through robots.txt) or redacted it some and gave the user to drop taht website from your search.

They aren't, they don't, and they simply don't care. That's the defining feature of PR-speak: they're lying, they know they're lying, they know you know they're lying, and they just don't care.

They have to say that, no matter whether they mean it.

What else could they say that wouldn't anger Getty Images?

"We're changing this to comply with a court order / settlement." seems fine to me. I don't think anyone would be angry at them, since they didn't want to do the change nor would be "lying" to users about why they do it.

But then they wouldn't get to act like they are masters of all they survey. This way, they can continue to claim that they are always entirely in control. At least to themselves.

It's probably as banal as trying to limit future lawsuits by restricting publicity on successful past ones.

Indeed that would be a much more elegant way to go about it.

Google is now a firm part of establishment, i.e. protecting the old ways of making money instead of inventing new ones. They initially looked like a company that could find better ways but it seems like prevailing winds were stronger in the end. The "to help connect users and useful websites" while removing that possibility is just usual expected spin associated with classical businesses. YouTube is also turning into an expensive lower-quality cable TV. How innovative!

Speaking of cable TV -- back in the 80s and 90s, Nickelodeon was groundbreaking. Today it's basically Disney Channel 2. Anything that rebelsagainst cable TV will end up looking like cable TV,just like the cable networks rebelled against the status quo before becoming the status quo. Maybe what we have is a sort of local maximum, a formula that best "works" for our local culture.

That's known as 'the structure of scientific revolutions' but it applies to revolution/innovation in general.


The book is free online.

I know this doesn't really add to the discussion but thanks for the reference.

> Google is now a firm part of establishment

They have been for a while now. They have a deal with the washingtonpost and nytimes to "feature" those two newspapers on google news and search. Check the waybackmachine and see how frequently washingtonpost and nytimes articles were on google news five years ago to now. It's incredible how prominently those two newspapers, but especially washingtonpost, are promoted on google now.

It also extends to their other properties like youtube. Look how heavily they are promoting kimmel, john oliver and other late night shows now.

But it applies to almost all of tech. The pressure put on tech by the establishment and their propaganda organs was too much.

Even HN is openly supporting the washingtonpost, nytimes and the establishment. I believe the mods called it "the standard". A "hacker" news site supporting establishment mouth pieces. Years ago, washingtonpost and the nytimes were scorned by HN. It's amazing how things change.

What's your problem with WaPo and NYT? Where should I go for news instead?

next stop: EME-wrapped (DRM) images

sounds like yegge was actually right

I agree on the general point. Corporate culture and the meaningless ways of talking that go with it are both (a) extremely dominant part of overall culture and (b) extremely disengenious and repressed. We talk like this a lot, among colleagues, to customers, politicians talk this way.

I'm not sure what's going on here though. It definitely isn't "some changes on Google Images to help connect users and useful websites." It's probably more to do with the fact that Google images is designed for viewing images, not finding links and that kind of makes it a content scraping site.

The idea that Google (or anyone) would speak normally (like a googler would speak, in a cafe) is oddly insane.

"After years of complaints and some lawsuits, we've decided to bite the bullet and take away the damned view image button. People use google images by searching for a thing and looking at the pictures. They don't really visit the website because well... they're looking for pictures not some random website that happens to have a picture. That means this isn't really a websearch site. It's pinterest with stolen content. Basically, Google images is kind of ilegal, but still dead useful. Hopefully this change will get the most litiguous photographers off our case and it'll be more or less business as usual."

I guess in this case speaking plainly actually does have nasty legal implications, but we do corporate speak regardless.

When OKCupid killed their app by making it a poorly implemented tinder clone with vestigial features, they pretended they had just discovered new and exciting things about first names, swiping and such.

Would it have really harmed them to say, real names are more normal now. Tinder is eating our lunch. Our average user keeps getting older. Our UI isn't as good for mobile or whatever reasons really drove those decisions. I'd be more interested in reading it then.

At the very least, ommit the meaningless stuff. Just say we're taking away this button and don't give a reason.

It would feel incredibly odd to lie like this between unincorporated natural persons in a noncommercial setting. Can you imagine telling your friends you'll noshow a bbq with some corproate-speak nonsense?.

It is not non-sense or meaningless though, and thinking that is dangerous. It is corporate propaganda and it is outrageously effective at shaping thought both internally and externally (internally being, perhaps, the most important portion). Linguistically speaking, the language we use has a material impact on how we think about the underlying ideas.

Good point. I guess a lot of what we say generally, doesn't have explicit meaning. That doesn't mean it's the same as silence, it's quite impactful.

> I am still surprised how easily corporations will hide their true motives, resolve any cognitive dissonance internally, and how easily others will forgive them.

People stopped caring a long time ago. It's became a new social norm. A corporation can't speak openly, they always need to "act in the best interest of the customer" and use other bs phrases. This battle has long been lost. Not just corporations - startups are equally bad, especially when recruiting employees who are supposed to work hard for their success.

There's a reason a lot of people choose not to work there.

Google still manages to get far too many non-sociopathic employees, by feeding them a supernormal[1] morality surrogate ("googley values") industrially designed to draw moral attention away from Google. Many employees actually start to perceive whatever they do at Google as "good" because Google has these supernormally good "googley values" of Google's own manufacture.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Supernormal_stimulus

I think it's more the $200k salaries and badge of having Google on your resume.

(Asking out of curiosity and not trying to be a smartass) But is Google still that impressive of a note on your résumé these days?

Most of the brightest students from my university off to work for or start innovative startups solving hard problems or they got research jobs at various engineering/energy companies, but a large number who were just kind of OK students got some fuzzy job at google doing who knows what but getting paid a lot to be there.

Sometimes I'm shocked by the dumb designs and whatnot that google puts out these days and wonder what kind of people they have making these decisions, then I think back to some of the people I went to school with and things start to click.

yes - look at LinkedIn people who used to work at Google and where they work now. Try 100+ samples.

Just like any large company there is a huge variety of work being done and varying degrees of competency among employees. Sure, there are some people who fit your description, but there are also lots of people doing cutting edge work that is absolutely impressive.

They -like every other hyper corporation- are starting to speak not like Governments but like sects.

> "Ultimately, Google Images is a way for people to discover information in cases where browsing images is a better experience than text."

That's my primary use of Google Images. I find that for a lot of things (at least things I'm searching for), that helps cut through a lot of the spam or generally lesser quality sites, even if the image itself isn't all that important to my search. Also, it's excellent when I don't know the specific name for an object... just use the best search terms I can think of for the object then browse images until I see one that's what I'm thinking of (or looks like it could be used for what I'm thinking of).

That said, I've also used it for grabbing images of something. But more and more often, I've used it just for searching in general.

> Do you believe any of these statements?

Well, technically "to help connect users and useful websites" is true.

You now have to visit the website that had the photo if you want to download the full-size version, whereas previously you could bypass the site and download it from Google Images directly.

In the same sense that ads "inform you about the existence of useful products".

It's technically true but also completely irrelevant.

> You now have to visit the website that had the photo if you want to download the full-size version, whereas previously you could bypass the site and download it from Google Images directly.

I'm guessing that soon we'll have a browser extension that will do it for us.

This new move is QUITE annoying on mobile.

After a tip I've switched to an alternative search engine that still works in the old fashion


I don't normally do this because we aren't Reddit here, after all. But this is stupidly appropriate.


Sorry but I do not understand Google's hidden motives behind this. Can you elaborate?

I'm sure it doesn't feel like they work for a stereotypical evil corporation or anything like that.

As soon as a big corporation tells you something is for your benefit you should check the contents of your pockets and make sure all your fingers are still there. It's a sure sign something has gone missing.

Any horrible task can be split up and thus be made more fullfillable by the human employed in the process.

Lets assume for example, google found some Xenomorphs on the moon- which needed a human host to be transfered to a research lab in moutain view.

Instead of having one person do it, the task will be split up.

There is one doctor making sure the human hosts are fine.

There is a transport pilot flying the human hosts to the moon.


There is a grief counselor contacting the hosts familys.

There is another transport pilot flying them home.

Finally there is one person who designs the process, not knowing exactly what will be extracted.

And of course a person who tells a nice PR-lie.

Its the same distribution of organization that made Auschwitz run so well.

Now repeat after me- do not be evil.

"Any horrible task can be split up and thus be made more fullfillable by the human employed in the process."

I think you're onto something here but I think there is a detail you've missed - hierarchy.

It's not the number of people involved that allows a a terrible process to be completed but rather the number of layers of hierarchy.

Someone at the top says "just make this (outcome) happen" and if they say that to the person who actually has to carry it out, there is pushback or guilt or exposure. But if that person can, in turn, tell someone else a level below to "just make this (outcome) happen" eventually there is enough insulation (emotional, legal, etc.) that someone at the end of the chain can get the shaft.

You can't really do that with a flat (absent) hierarchy.

Honesty has a cost.

Yes, for bad actors

So it’s ok for google to scrape and save images and display them without compensating photographers (which I’m cool with), but not users? This is bizarre, anti user functionality.

By default if the image is available on the web, it is meant to be seen. This is going to make high school PowerPoint users spend more time, and result in zero extra revenue and zero drop in copyright infringement.

The more interesting question is why google is doing this.

> The more interesting question is why google is doing this.

They got sued.

"These changes came about in part due to our settlement with Getty Images this week."

Why not just remove the feature for pictures from Getty then, or simply not show their pictures at all? Surely that is within the technical capability of Google.

Presumably because others could now sue Google for the same reasons, and they would be even more likely to win given the Getty result.

This. Otherwise known as "legal precedent".

Settlements don't establish precedent.

Ah, good point, it was a settlement...

Because then every other company would file similar suite and Google would have to deal with all of them.

Do you think every image company would want to be removed from Google Search results instead of building their services without the ability to scrape the big resolution images? How would users get on their websites?

It doesn't matter. Once one company wins in court, it sets a precedent. It attracts more companies to follow the same path as they'll think they have a better shot at winning. Google obviously wouldn't risk this.

But the question is what would they be winning? Fewer users because they are now off the search-grid.

Why would they want that?

> what would they be winning?

Money from a successful lawsuit?

Believe it or not there are people who just enjoy suing corporations or governments.

Lawyers are not cheap and frankly Google would lose every case because they are in the wrong.

Why are they in the wrong (on this issue)?

It was a settlement, there is no precedent.

Users don't go to the websites at all if the images are scraped by Google.

Because Getty wasn't suing to stop Google from sharing Getty images in image search. They were suing because they felt coerced into participating in image search. Forcing Getty not to participate would have been even worse for Getty.

Google should have just delisted Getty images from all of their search.

Then Google would have been sued for monopoly abuse, in Europe at least.

Even if it was with Getty's blessing?

The feature is still available on Bing Images, for now: http://www.bing.com/images/

Looks like Getty and Microsoft have had an agreement for a couple of years now https://searchengineland.com/microsoft-getty-images-announce...

I don’t believe that this is the sole motivator. As others have said, they could remove this for Getty images only (based on domain, based on reverse image search, lots of ways). But also, this seems like an absurd judgement, that if true they would want to highlight how the judgement had a very specific design fix as part of the settlement.

Since Google isn’t highlighting any such absurd ruling’s specific language then there must be some other reason.

>...there must be some other reason.

If Getty can successful sue them, then any image rights holder can do so. Making an exception for Getty images doesn't resolve the underlying general liability or infringement. That means if another rights holder were to sue them for not addressing that liability for their images, now Google are infringing wilfully and subject to punitively increased sanctions or damages. That's reason enough to apply this remedy across the board.

YouTube and many other sites have systems to work with rightsholders. It would be trivial for Google to allow Getty and others to manage their images that show up while still retaining functionality for the billions of images created by people who don’t care or who even explicitly allow Creative Commons usage.

Thus my suspicion. What’s a little sad is 15 years ago I would give Google the benefit of the doubt, but this reminds me how times have changed.

YouTube, where a user chooses to upload content and Google defines the platform features and standards, is pretty different to search.

‘Still retaining functionality’ would require assuming permissive access to images as the default, which is what has got a Google into this mess in the first place. The whole point of this is that, for sites and rights holders that don’t explicitly allow access, Google cannot assume they grant it. They have to assume the most restrictive grant of rights, and adoption of metadata to indicate more permissive access is so poorly adopted it’s just irrelevant in practice.

> They have to assume the most restrictive grant of rights, and adoption of metadata to indicate more permissive access is so poorly adopted it’s just irrelevant in practice.

Try the advanced image search options, just like many other modern image search engines, as a user, you can filter for permissive licenses. I'm not sure how they gather that metadata, but the results I'm getting, it's not poorly adopted at all.

So they could in fact retain the functionality for images with the right license.

I think Google prefers to minimize the: "if this domain, and only this domain, do this special thing". Like you said, given that it would be absurd to remove a UI element based on some whim that it'd put them in compliance, I'm sure a major element of the plaintiff's litigation case hinged on this very feature.

They have many cases of this. They actively filter based on domain to comply with takedown notices. That’s the most public example of how they have a huge number of exceptions based on domain and file.

Of course, I’m sure they do this in an intelligent way rather than literally a bunch of one off kludges.

Maybe completely ignoring a domain is different than a implementing subroutine that ignores indexing a domain's images but not its other (text-based) content?

"The goals of the advertising business model do not always correspond to providing quality search to users."

Google for that exact phrase and see who made that observation.

I binged it, and it took me to this zdnet article: http://www.zdnet.com/article/google-advertising-and-search-e...

So the author of that observation is Sergey Brin himself. Lel.

I try not to overuse the reference, but "Anatomy of a Search Engine" [1] is so deliciously prescient and ironic that it's hard to avoid. It's funny how hard Sergey and Larry shifted once personal fortunes changed their motivation.

[1] http://infolab.stanford.edu/~backrub/google.html

"For example, a search engine could add a small factor to search results from "friendly" companies, and subtract a factor from results from competitors"

That's basically what Google got sued for in the EU and they lost. The friendly companies were other Google properties.

The shopping fine? That wasn't a case of results being secretly promoted like the paper was worried about. The shopping ads were labeled as sponsored.

It is rather delicious.

(Not to be confused with del.icio.us, which is now ... Pinboard.)

That's the first time I've ever heard somebody use "bing" as a verb, outside of a Microsoft ad.

(Assuming that your post isn't a new form of Microsoft ad, that is.)

https://duckduckgo.com/ also had this link as its #1 result. I much prefer DDG - have converted across all my devices now in the past month and I'm really, really liking it. (Sorry off topic, but it's contextual.)

What's that then, I ducked it? :-)

Doesn't DDG use Bing behind the scenes for substantial number of queries?

quacked it?


I use Bing regularly. Sometimes I'll say I've binged something, but I have a hard time doing so without a little hint of sarcasm or self-awareness in my voice.

It gets weirder when people are using the term "Google-fu" - gotta say "search-fu" if you can't stomach "Bing-fu"; neither option is great.

But hey, the rewards points are redeemable for Amazon cards...

Users are the goods, not the clients, of Google.

Remember: if you get a service for free, then you are the merchandise.

The content of 3rd party websites is the merchandise. Users are users. Just because it's financed by ads doesn't mean they're not interested in your experience. Facebook currently experiences how problematic declining user engagement can be. If Google search quality ever drops below that of others (Bing, Yandex), they'd be in real trouble. Their superior search is the only reason they make all that money.

I get that some are dissatisfied by "paying" with ads. But the alternative would be a paid-for search engine. Not only would that potentially exclude some, it would also make it harder to access search for people from low-income countries. Currently, US and Europe subsidise operations for money other areas, allowing them to get the same search experience. That'd change with a paid-for model.

> Remember: if you get a service for free, then you are the merchandise.

Like Wikipedia, right?

Exactly. The number of wikipedia users is used when soliciting for donations. Donators and wikipedia users probably have some overlap, but that's also true of Google Search users and advertisers..

Right, which shows that the notion that "you're the product" is stretched so far to fit this idiotic platitude that it's more or less meaningless.

Wikipedia is run by non-profit organization.

jokes on you, I pay them monthly.

> By default if the image is available on the web, it is meant to be seen

Some might argue the image is meant to be seen...in the context of the web page it's on.

Hose would argue with the http protocol and standard then.

Some would argue that speech in public between two people should not be overheard. But so what, the fact that some argue has limited value without lots of qualifiers.

> Hose would argue with the http protocol and standard then.

Which part of any version of the http protocol spec covers this?


Photographers should meticulously watermark their photos and offer non-watermarked via paid portals or with whatever ugly DRM there is. Unless they want to do it for free, which many want.

> This is going to make high school PowerPoint users spend more time

This is going to make Senior Architect PowerPoint users spend more time...

When I show my PHB why kubernetes is "the shit" and something we "really need", as I do with all my technical presentations: I get my propaganda directly from the suppliers. Am I gonna spend time visually describing how Oracles product suite hangs together? No, that's the job of someone who works at Oracle.

The sites themselves often have lower res versions in their articles, so 'view image' has repeatedly saved my bacon getting high res, clean, versions for reuse. Google Image search historically cut through the noise and got relevant images out in a highly usable format, while saving oooooodles of time digging out the appropriate graphic.


While it would be cool to cut down on such presentations as you describe, I would hope that even PHB style architects can right click, or use the dev console, or pull from cache.

Right click is blocked, natch, and dev console on google images trying to get sources is nowhere close to being as fast as visiting the source site and right clicking. Pulling from cache is also more time intensive, and therefore irrelevant.

Also, I said architect reporting to a PHB, not a PHB architect, and that the time was used creating presentations, not that the volume of presentations themselves could be 'cut down'...


Yes, I don't see the problem either.

Paywalled photos as from news agencies are already published in severely reduced resolution and often with huge watermarks plastered over the entire photo, if they are even on the public web! If you're publishing paywalled photos in public, high resolution, and perfectly usable for stealing, you are doing something wrong already.

Actually, for _any_ case of content in websites, if you rely on a search engine of all things (designed to spider your website) to protect it you are doing something terribly wrong.

I wish Google would just have removed the Getty Images from their search index altogether and be done with it. If they don't want them there, just remove them all already. I hate this sort of collective punishment for the entire web just because of someone's "special interests" that honestly seem to boil down to webmasters with "special needs"!

Seems fitting to me, but Getty Images obviously had a lot of say in the matter, and I doubt they wanted their images delisted completely.

The way you find out whether a change like this afffects revenue is by testing it, not speculating.

It's right there in the article

>Google has long been under fire from photographers and publishers who felt that image search allowed people to steal their pictures, and the removal of the view image button is one of many changes being made in response. A deal to show copyright information and improve attribution of Getty photos was announced last week and included these changes.

Using the context menu to "Open Image in New Tab" essentially does the same thing so the functionality is still there.

> using the context menu to “Open Image in New tab” essentially dos the same thing so the functionality is still there.

No, actually “view image” loaded the source image at source resolution while viewing the image loaded into the DOM would show you the re-encoded, lower resolution, smaller Google thumbnail version.

Edit: actually it seems that Google has simultaneously deployed an update that makes the actual source image open so that might actually work.

What I'm seeing on the current site is that the large preview seen on clicking a thumbnail is the original image, loaded from the original server and scaled in CSS.

Nothing's really changed in terms of capability; the UI is just a bit more awkward.

That can't be true - or it would be very taxing to browse a page of 20MP+ images.

Only images you click on (so that the larger preview pops up, with the Visit button and which used to have the View image button) load the original images, rescaled with CSS. The grid of smaller images consists of thumbnails.

I tested it and this doesn't seem to happen. Maybe it's only for small images or is on a best effort basis.

All images you click on are fully loaded, images you don't click on are Google-hosted thumbnails. No exceptions.

This isn't true for me. The clicked on images, at least of high resolution, are data urls under 1 MP. Exactly like the thumbnails from the grid.

Are you sure you're actually clicking the images first, so they're brought up in the image viewer box with the other options available, and then right-clicking -> View Image/Open Image/whatever?

If you are, then that's very strange, and I have no idea why that's happening for you and not for anybody else. What browser and OS are you using?

Yes that’s what I’m doing but it’s not that strange, because it's what I would expect. It is too slow to load many such large images automatically.

But FYI, this is Safari on OS X.

> It is too slow to load many such large images automatically.

The images don't all load automatically, though; an image only begins to load when you click on it individually, opening it within the viewer, on a Google Images results page.

Here[0] is a screenshot example. Clicking on 'Open image in new tab' (or 'View Image' in Firefox) will open the image[1] directly, and inspecting the page's source will reveal it is simply an <img> element with the URL as the src value. The size ought to make no difference; I tried up to 10 MP.

It may take a second to load, but that's how Google Images works: once an image is open in the viewer, it is quite literally just embedding the unadulterated source image within the page. It has been this way since at least 2010.

(Unless, of course, there is behaviour unique to Safari or OS X: of that I have no idea.)

[0]: https://i.imgur.com/mYAFr0J.jpg

[1]: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/b5/Winnersh...

I agree you have no idea :) it works for you and not for me. Google could be A/B testing for all we know.


In this comment and especially in https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=16323396, you've violated the site rules badly. You've also posted a bunch of unsubstantive comments and ignored our request to stop doing this.

We ban accounts that behave this way, so would you please (re-)read https://news.ycombinator.com/newsguidelines.html and comment only in the spirit of this site from now on? That means being scrupulously respectful of others, and generally not posting unless you have something substantive to say and can do so thoughtfully.

I am not sure, but read somewhere on HN Google related article comments that what Google does is first load all image search page with own encoded compressed thumbnails, enlarged by css, and then async fetches the real images, replaces the thumbnails, and scales down by css to show as same size of thumnail.

Edit: in this exact thread, another user too made same observation at https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=16390022

Yeah, showing me the image at full resolution when I "Open image in new tab".

It was already like that and has been like that for years.

DuckDuckGo still has this feature in their Images search, using the "View File" button.

It also doesn't wrap the URL of search results in a Google redirect URL, so you can Right Click > Copy to get the actual URL of the webpage or image.

Long ago, when I still thought of Google as a good company that made good decisions for its users, I never had the impression that I'd done an exhaustive web search until I searched on Google. Now, searching Google always gives me the impression that I'm searching a heavily filtered, AI-curated subset of the web. I switched to DDG recently, and so far the results give me that impression that I'm searching 'the whole web' or something like it. I suppose it's inevitable that Google was ruined by becoming so enormous, having to be all things to everybody, especially its shareholders.

I love DDG but the problem is that google is still the best whenever I want to search something that's not in English or that's localized. So I still use google for that.

I use DDG when I want nonlocalized results that aren't as biased

But most times I want information tailored specific to my issues so google is better for me 90% of the time.

Try Yandex if it is available in your language.

How is Yandex any better then Google?

Hmm, I get pretty good DDG search results in Japanese. I assume you're searching in your target language, rather than search terms in English with the name of your desired language tacked on?

To be fair, DDG is actually quite decent in Japanese but when searching in French I find that it's often lacking. I think it's mostly that French is not dissimilar enough from English for the search engine to pick up on it sometimes.

It might also have something to do with more French speakers knowing English than Japanese speakers knowing English.

also recent news. google still way above ddg on minutes old news.

The easiest way to view how wrongly Google has strayed is to search for something like "First Singer Songwriter". Google automates a rich card to say "Charles Trenet 1938" while showing an image of Woody Guthrie..

It's generating its own fake news at this point.

And its ignoring the long history of folk protest song eg "the world turnd upside down" which is a ECW protest song.

Oh and I forgot the medieval Chanson which is ever earlier.

Long long ago, I used to use Yahoo, Lycos, Infoseek, etc., and then I discovered AltaVista and I felt the similarly. The algorithms and relevance wasn't as good as what Google eventually came up with, but it felt like AltaVista had results that its contemporaries weren't getting.

DDG is starting to feel a bit like AltaVista in that regard.

DDG is mostly just Bing results in case you're unaware.

They use "over 400 sources" for results.

Most of their links come from their own webcrawler, Bing, Yahoo, and Yandex.

TIL webcrawler still exists.

Been a ddg user since the early days, and it's amazing how obvious they make googles user hostile moves year after year. Amp, blackhat seo support because $, non boolean search, and now images.

Honestly, this is why I love the Internet. Because while a company gets more and more focused on profits and power the Internet will just come up with something better... until that thing becomes the thing it hates and the pattern repeats.

A perfect example of this is digg and reddit. Reddit has gone so far downhill the minute someone has a real replacement it's going the way of Slashdot.

Fuck Google, Fuck Facebook, Fuck Microsoft, Fuck oracle, Fuck reddit, and Fuck all the other services that pretend to be for the user while they abuse the user.

Join me on the foss-side, we have source code. (Ddg has a cli search client just fyi)

Came here to say exactly this. It's time to embrace DuckDuckGo, I made the switch about 6 months ago, thought I would hate it. Expected the UX to drive me nuts after so long with the Google interface, but it made no difference. It's a really solid drop-in replacement.

The search, image, and shopping results have improved significantly over the past 6 months. Must be better ML. I now prefer it to Bing. Super easy to set it as default on iOS.

This might just be the thing that gets me to switch. I use "Show Image" for the image search all the time.

Same! If I want an image, I'm going to get it one way or another. Might as well use a tool that doesn't actively try to get in my way.

Edit: Well it seems this is from legal pressure from Getty. Unfortunately that reason isn't enough to stop me from switching.

You can still right-click -> View Image/Open image in new tab/etc., of course, but I do agree the Show Image button was handy.

Well no, it wouldn't be such a big deal if this was the case.

If you do that you usually end up with a low-resolution image on a url of the form https://encrypted-tbn0.gstatic.com/images?...

Do you? I don't. I'm using google.co.uk on PC, with both Chrome and Firefox, and can always freely get the image this way.

You do have to wait for the image to have fully loaded, mind, but otherwise it's quite literally embedding the image anyway - right-click, View Image, and you've got it.

You're right clicking the tiled image on the results page.

If you left click a result first to give it focus, and then right click->open in new tab you'll get the original, full size, image.

I remember how Yandex was making a toast out of Google image search (market share wise) by providing said button. I think that the whole inclusion of the button by Google was motivated by this competition and Russian market was the first to get it.

Guess what, I think yandex.com still has it too.

There are some Firefox and chrome add-ons that fix that issue. but I have yet to find something that fixes Facebook's link redirection. Anyone know of one?

FB Purity[0] includes cleaning link redirects and a lot else to try and make FB tolerable.

[0] https://www.fbpurity.com/

Oh wow, that is great. I wonder why it is not here https://addons.mozilla.org/

Good. I am going to need something to help my kids print coloring pages cleanly.

Pinterest has already ruined my google image search experience. They "aggregate" content from other sites that I'd actually want to read, strip them of any context, and package them up with other images behind a login wall.

No kidding! You used to be able to personalize your Google search results to blacklist pinterest.com but they removed that feature a while back. Now you have to type out -site:pinterest.com every single time you want to search for something or install an add-on like:


It's seriously annoying that they had a feature that solved the problem then they took it away. Just like removing the "View Image" button.

This is the worst for circuit diagrams.

"Great, a couple of transistors and resistors, an 8-pin IC - that looks about right. Let's just see how it works, and...oh. Nope, it's just that image, with no part numbers. And nothing else."

I can only guess that some people use it as a half-assed whiteboard to remember links and stuff, and Google picks up on that. The ironic problem for Google is, the 'pin' replaces the actual useful content which the Pinterest users were originally hoping to remember for later access!

I had not heard of Getty Images prior to today, but I now associate them with breaking the internet.

I don't like it when people do that, so if I ever find myself in the position of needing to buy stock images, now I've heard of Getty Images and I'll make sure I pay someone else.

They're probably the most well known stock photography company out there, I don't think they'll miss your business if you hadn't even heard of them.

And they apparently own iStockPhoto and they are themselves under ownership of a large group.

Voting with one's feet works against local grocery shops, not global corporations.

You can add my business to GP's.

I'm currently in the market for stock photos. The allotted budget isn't one those folk would miss, but it's more than enough to commission our own.

As a direct response to getty's behavior, I'll be commissioning the photos and making them available under a free license after around a year of use. It's also very unlikely that I'll be doing business with them in the future.

>Voting with one's feet works against local grocery shops, not global corporations.

It isn't as much of vote with my feet as it is adhering to one's own principles.

Also, thank you for mentioning istockphoto relationship with getty. I'll avoid them in the future as well.

It's really just a minor inconvenience right? I wouldn't call it breaking the internet.

The intent is to break things for at least a fraction of users, or there would be no point in doing it at all.

Fuck Getty. They claim licensing rights over public domain images, and then tell the original copyright holder (who placed the image in the public domain) to fuck off.


Unfortunately this seems like a good reason to never release something to the public domain, but only with something like a creative commons license. If she'd done that, she likely would have retained some control and possibly won that law suit.

IP law in the US hasn't functioned as intended for a very long time now. People seem to be starting to pick up on that more. I can only hope that continues and we eventually see some real reform.

The work was in the public domain, which means anyone can do anything with it, including selling it. The original copyright holder has no more rights than anyone else once the work is in the public domain (thats kinda the point of it).

This lawsuit was really rather pointless.

I'm going to play devils advocate here and say this is a good change. If google was scaping the text of sites and only displaying that, would we think that was ok? Just like google search, this is about giving you a preview, then go to the source.

If you want the image, we all know how to find it, get it. How big of an annoyance is this?

This is a huge annoyance.

A lot of times I am looking for images which are in the public domain, and for which if I go to the page in question, I have to then sort through dozens of images to find the one I had been looking at already in the search.

Here's an example. I've just done a search, found an image that I want to view larger, the image is long since in the public domain, but when I click on "visit" I get a page with a list of text links that I now have to sort through to find the full image:


Edit to add:

Now that I look closer, I notice that Google is actually embedding the original image, instead of a preview (they load a low-res preview, and then replace that with a hotlinked image), so you can just right click and choose "view image" now to work around this.

I guess that's OK for people who are technically inclined enough to know that you can do that.

Your edit picked up on exactly what I was going to reply with letting you know until I saw you already got there. Expanding on it, you can 'copy image location' (at least in FF) to get the original image URL, and you can also middle-click 'view image' to open the image itself in a new tab. Both are useful tricks when rifling through images.

> I guess that's OK for people who are technically inclined enough to know that you can do that.

I have a bias where I'm OK with the fact that people who take the time to learn the capabilities of the tools they use get better results from them. I figured this out within about 30 seconds of noticing that the view image button was gone, after sending feedback to say I didn't like the change.

This would be the wrong bias if I was designing a product. Of course, a product will be most successful if it maximizes discoverability and doesn't make the user think, which is exactly what Google has been coerced in to rolling back here.

> A lot of times I am looking for images which are in the public domain

Do you think that’s a valid justification to give the person who hosted it no credit and traffic for their work, instead choosing to leech the image directly from their server at their cost? The fact that they built a page around the image with relevant keywords that is the only reason you found it through Google in the first place. There’s nothing stopping someone from building a public domain image search that hosts its own images, but you went to Google for convenience.

>text of sites

Google does exactly that through "view cached/text only". You need to specifically opt your site out of the caching thing. I guess they could have done exactly that with images for those who complained.

The cached page often renders so poorly that that function will only be used when you really need something and the page is down (or deleted). If the content experience weren't so hit-and-miss, who wouldn't use the "view cached" option to enjoy the speed of Google's cache?

There is no hit-and-miss experience with the "View image" feature -- you get access to exactly what you came looking for, and in a more convenient and speedy way.

See: AMP. Although, supposedly, using the cache with AMP is "opt in" - because it's "part of" AMP.

Yeah, but when I search for an image, then that's _all_ I want. I don't want to be forced to meander down the path of where the image was posted and see any of the content that supports it (which is usually pages of comments). Google, you're a search engine - Find me what I'm looking for and get out of my way.

I'd be perfectly fine with visiting the site to get the image if there weren't tons of blog/twitter type sites where it links to the frontpage and you have to dig through years of posts to find the image you're after.

Image search finds images mostly based on the text that is placed near the image on the webpage.

So, with your search engine, you'd put in keywords to describe an image, it would then look at the webpages' text to figure out, if the image on there might be relevant, then it would present the images that it has found, so that you can select the webpage that you want to go to based on the image which's surrounding text on the webpage suits your keywords.

That does sound like a cool concept for a search engine, but ultimately just the regular web search will do the same without the fuzziness of images added in between.

As a result, I don't know anyone who uses image search to find a webpage.

Its not about Google but user. This infringes on user's freedom. Google just happen to be a provider of the banned feature.

The problem is that it meaningfully degrades the experience on every other non-getty image.

Google does it partially. Its called rich snippet.

Whatever Google does, they will be called evil for it.

I think this will lead people to search for better alternatives. Removing the core part of a major product won't do any good to google. The view page button is often broken and shows a page which doesn't even contain the searched image.

I don't think Google likes it either. "These changes came about in part due to our settlement with Getty Images this week."

I had a feeling the internet copyright fun police had to be involved somewhere. No way Google decides to cripple their product that badly without some kind of legal pressure. It would be funny albeit highly abusive of their position for Google to completely delist Getty from their services, not to damage their business but to prevent copyright infringement of course.

To add to this I wonder what exactly this "new partnership" with Google entails.


This morning everyone hated Google for hosting news pages on their AMP cache, tonight everyone hates Google for NOT hosting images on their image cache.

The view image button took you to the image hosted on the non-google webserver, it had nothing to do with an image cache (which is still there, its what google shows you in the results).

Couldn't they just introduce a change that would only affect certain websites such as getty? That would be more logical than completely destroying how image search is meant to be.

No, because Getty is in the business of licensing their images to other sites. If an image appears on a news article, it could be from Getty. If it's on a blog post, it could be from Getty.

You could have some protocol by which sites indicated that it can't be linked; but then everyone who embeds a Getty image would have to change their site to adopt that, and that would probably involve Getty having to change their licensing terms to require that, which would be a huge hassle for their customers who probably wouldn't bother doing it because it's difficult and doesn't help them out at all.

Or you'd have to do some kind of watermark embedding.

Anyhow, while it would be technically possible to do one of these things, I suspect that legally it was just a lot simpler to get Google to remove the feature.

That all sounds like a Getty problem.

Which is why they sued. To solve that problem.

> Which is why they sued. To solve that problem.

Except that they didn't solve the problem at all, they only foisted it onto everyone else, who now have to deal with an inferior interface even when they aren't dealing with Getty images.

But that is NOT a Getty problem. Getty's iStockPhoto has its own image search, which is under its control and contains only its own images that are for sale. Crippling other image search products is good for Getty.

Since the change is motivated by legal reasons, I expect logic didn't have much of a voice in the decision.

Right. I was a PM on Google Image Search and, from what I experienced on the team, would assume this is related to the Getty Relationship, not for users’ benefit

And I assume the reason they don't just say the Getty battle is the reason for this is due to other legal concerns about libel and slander. Even if we find alternatives to Google Image search, the alternative will get stuck in the same impossible situation eventually :/

I'm sure they just didn't think of that option.

Solution for Chrome: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/straight-to-full-s...

Chrome Extension "Straight to Full-Size for Google Images"

Solution for the (much faster than Chrome now) Firefox: https://addons.mozilla.org/en-US/firefox/addon/google-image-...

excellent find, but there's valuable data in those previews; namely the size of the original image. especially useful when trying to find a particular image of a particular size. unfortunately that extension bypasses the preview.

yes I agree, sometimes you really want that information. I recommend you turn it off (it's a one click in the toolbar) if you want to information or use the bookmarklet recommended here.

Thanks! this fully solves the problem.

Browser extension that restores functionality by end of the week?

(At least Bing has really good image search.)

Until Getty goes after Bing too, from the scant details in the article.

This is why I'm scared of Twitch getting big enough to draw itself into publishers' crosshairs and have similar controls for copyright and stuff as YouTube does.

Getty already reached a deal with Microsoft regarding this in 2015:


im bullish on blockchain tech around solving this issue. No single point to sue & bully.

Just a public ledger to show exactly whom is responsible.

Suing individuals in multiple legal jurisdictions is both more technically difficult and worse PR than suing a big tech companies. There's a reason record labels gave up on that approach.

If the PR was that bad couldn't they just lobby the government to enforce the criminal aspect of copyright laws against people they can prove are breaking them, and ruin people's lives that way?

Here is a Chrome Extension that adds back View Image button: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/view-image-button-...

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