For my stamp and postcard blogs (and sometimes for this one as well), I rely on historic images and maps of places all over the world. Many of these images fall into the public domain and are free from copyright. To illustrate my articles, I seek out high-resolution images on a daily basis and most of these come courtesy of Wikipedia.
When I’ve had to do image searches, however (sometimes current maps but usually vintage maps especially for former African colonies that no longer exist), my go-to for many years has been Google as I found their “View Image” button extremely useful especially when setting the Tools to show Large-sized images first. In recent months, I’d become frustrated when so many of the top results had been watermarked with Getty Images becoming especially prevalent.
I even spied a few of MY SCANS OF STAMPS AND POSTCARDS THAT I OWN with the Getty Images branding (why do I have to pay for a license when THEY didn’t ASK ME!).
This weekend, I noticed that Google Images no longer includes the “View Image” button in their results. They apparently announced this “improvement” on Twitter recently, something I missed until somebody steered me in the right direction:
The trouble is that, if you do visit those sites, the image is often nowhere to be found or it isn’t in a decent resolution. I can understand that they did this out of concern over copyrights (and it is the result of a deal they made with the devil, I mean Getty Images). I just cannot understand how items that had previously been in the public domain (I’m talking about photos and other images created ninety, one hundred, one hundred and fifty years ago) suddenly be under copyright just because Getty says it is?
While some nations do copyright the designs of their recent stamps, those issued more than 50 years ago tend to not fall under such restrictions.
Anyway, the Internet is all a-buzz today with complaints over Google’s changes.
The good news is that there are work-arounds. Yes, you can visit the site that Google sends you to and search for the image; right-clicking to see the image in your browser still works. That can be somewhat time-consuming if you are looking through a lot of images to find that one “perfect” one to use, but it works if the image is still on the page (not all pages are so static) and if it’s at the resolution needed.
Or, you can use a different search engine. I like Bing okay, but the thing I really liked about Google is that it gave me information (usually) about what the image was before I clicked on it. Location, for example, because the map or photo of an island might not always be the island you need a map or photo of.
An article on Lifehacker mentions an alternative Google-like search engine called StartPage which sounds promising as well, particularly as it’s all about privacy. On my first try, I found some photos of Charles Lindbergh I hadn’t seen before; not all results have a “View Image” option but there isn’t a single Getty Images brand to be seen (although I did see a few for Alamy Stock Images which are almost as annoying).
Okay. Back to our regular programming…