Google now provides an image credit link for photos that have IPTC metadata included, making it slightly harder for them to become ‘Orphan Works’.
When metadata includes authorship details, Google will include a clickable link under the image which shows the creator’s name and copyright details. Here’s a closer look.
Of course, the Metadata has to include the author in the first place for this to work, and the user must click the ‘Image credits’ link. So hardly a fail-safe system to protect copyright online.
However, a copyright infringer may not be able to so easily claim they couldn’t find an author for the protected material they unlawfully used – the ‘Orphan Works’ loophole.
Australian policymakers are currently working on a raft of amendments to the Copyright Act, including new exceptions like Orphan Works. While the Federal Government has stalled on the controversial US-style Fair Use exception, it seems highly likely Orphan Works will be pushed through.
Orphan Works is when copyrighted material is detached from its author. You can read more about it here, but basically if an individual undertakes a ‘diligent search’ to find an author they can theoretically bypass copyright law.
The copyright exception has photographers particularly alarmed – images are easily detached from an author online, and no one is certain how ‘diligent’ the ‘search’ has to be. Read more details here.
With Google supplying a clickable link with an author’s name when it’s applicable, it seems less likely that a diligent search was undertaken.
This is another step in the right direction by Google, after it rolled out a ‘more prominent’ copyright disclaimer below each image earlier this year.
The new image credit function comes after Google announced it was working with two photographic associations, International Press Telecommunications Council (IPTC) and the European Centre of the Picture Industry (CEPIC)
With the European Union implementing stricter online copyright law, Google is attempting to get out in front of the law and possibly stave off more stringent copyright protections.