In collaboration with Shutterstock, Google has announced the launch of licensable images on Google Images. This feature entered beta testing earlier this year and is now fully launched and integrated into Google Images, hopefully benefiting photographers. With the new 'Licensable' badge on Google Image search results, viewers can immediately identify which images can be licensed for varying uses and better understand the usage rights of individual images.

Shutterstock worked closely with Google to ensure the licensable images feature works effectively. Of the new features, Shutterstock's VP of Content Operations, Paul Brennan, says:

'Google Images' new features help both image creators and image consumers by bringing visibility to how creators' content can be licensed properly. We are pleased to have worked closely with Google on this feature, by advocating for protections that result in fair compensation for our global community of over 1 million contributors. In developing this feature, Google has clearly demonstrated its commitment to supporting the content creation ecosystem.'

When an image has specified license information on a website, the image can be displayed with the Licensable badge on image thumbnails in Google Images. This badge indicates to viewers that license information is available for the image and then provides a link directly to the license in the image viewer. From here, someone can learn how the image can be licensed and used.

Here you can see the 'Licensable' badge on the bottom left corner of images. When clicking on an image and accessing the image viewer, Google Images displays the creator, where the image can be licensed and also license details for the selected image. Image credit: Google

For Google to be able to discover and index images on a website, the images must be accessible without an account or by logging in. You must also follow Google's Webmaster Guidelines and Google Images Best Practices. In addition to these existing steps, the new Licensable badge requires structured data or IPTC photo metadata to follow Google's new guidelines. You can learn more about these requirements here.

Close-up image of the new image viewer in Google Images. Click to view larger. Image credit: Google

With the introduction of the Licensable badge, search results in Google Images can now be filtered to only display images that include licensing. Further, the dropdown Usage Rights filter has been streamlined, such that it now includes only options for 'All', 'Creative Commons licenses' and 'Commercial & other licenses'.

It has long been far too easy for people to search for images on Google and use them without a license or permissions. Today's changes to Google Images will hopefully reduce image misuse. At the very least, assuming a photographer has taken the steps to ensure their images are properly badged and filtered on Google Images, it will now be much easier for Google Images users to view creator information and licensing requirements.