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Google Images Makes it Easier to Search by Usage Rights

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Google Images Usage Rights Search

Google Images has made a great change to its search results. Users can now search for images with specific usage rates more easily. This will be extremely helpful for webmasters and others to find images that they can use for publishing on their own sites.

While Google has actually offered filtering based on photo licenses since 2009, it was a little-known search feature buried in the advanced search options. With the change, users can easily see it and filter the results accordingly.

To access it, simply click "Search Tools" on the image results page, and along with the usual search settings such as size and date, there is now a new drop-down for usage rights. The default is set to "not filtered by license" but users can change it to "labeled for reuse", "labeled for commercial reuse", "labeled for reuse with modification", and "labeled for commercial reuse of modification".

Sites such as Flickr, as well as stock photography sites that offer a variety of photo rights, have long had this type of filtering in their own search results. Bing began offering its own license search filter last summer, so it's surprising that Google took so long to make the change obvious to the average searcher.

As a word of caution, as with any image search, do be aware there are sites that republish photos allowing for reuse, but are actually not the original owner. However, using Google’s reverse image search can help determine the originating owner of an image and to determine what the correct licensing on the photo is.


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