CEPIC, the Centre of the Picture Industry, submitted a formal antitrust complaint against Google’s use of third-party images before the European Commission on November 8th 2013.The complaint was supported by an unprecedented coalition of European and US trade associations representing thousands of photographers and picture agencies worldwide.
The complaint addresses Google’s various unauthorized uses of third-party images in its horizontal Web Search and its specialized services, in particular Google Images. Google increasingly uses on-line images without the rightholders’ consent, sometimes even against their explicit wishes. Since the redesign of Google Images in January 2013, the situation got worse: Google presents images in full size and high resolution on its site and enables users to download them without ever having to click through to the original website hosting the image.
According to CEPIC members, 85% of pictures found online by visual search systems are unlawful copies and 80% of those illegal images have been spread through search engines such as Google Images. By presenting images out of the context of their source page, without information on the author and a hardly visible copyright note, the new design of Google Images significantly increases this problem.
The picture industry would like an adequate balance between Google’s use of their content and the benefits they receive in return, in particular traffic on their websites.
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For students Google images provides quick reference points for images. The ease of reuse of other people’s creations on the web is leading to some content creators and rights owners, such as the major image libraries, taking steps to protect copyright by using sophisticated image-matching robots to crawl the web and find where their images are being used without permission.
In the past 2 or 3 years many individuals, businesses and institutions, including Universities , have found themselves being issued with large bills for the use of such material on their websites without permission.
For quality sites which append trustworthy information Cardiff Met Library provides links within its Electronic Library. Excellent sites include Tate Art and Artists, V&A Collections, MOMA NY, Google Cultural Institute, NYPL, Ubuweb (copyright clearance on this site is not certain) and databases for which we pay to have access to copyright cleared images such as Bridgeman Education and Worth Global Style Network