An Open Letter to Google and Microsoft

Dear Google and Microsoft,

Yes, the Internet is wonderful and has changed our lives mostly for the better. You make searching for information on the web much easier. And now photographers can use your images search function to find uses of their photos. But I have a huge favor to ask.

Photographers have a difficult enough time protecting their rights. Many people think that items on the web, including images, are free to use. Many people, when accused of infringing the copyrights of photographers, claim that they didn’t know that the photograph was protected by copyright because they copied it from a Google or Bing Images search.

So, would both of you please make it clearer that results from a image search may be protected by copyright?

Google, thank you for at least including this phrase when showing an individual photo:

Google Images Search Result

But would you please make the statement more prominent?

Further, you used to explain on this page that:

The images displayed in a Google Image Search may be protected by copyright, so we can’t grant you the right to use them for any purpose other than viewing them on the web. If you’d like to use images from our image search, we suggest contacting the site’s webmaster to obtain permission.

However, you’ve removed the information there.  At least you include a similar statement about mobile searches here:

Microsoft, shame on you. You have no indication at all with your search results that the photos may be protected by copyright:

Bing Images Search Result

Therefore, would you please include with search results an explanation about copyright law and let users know that they may need to get permission to use a photo?  It would make a wonderful holiday gift for photographers and unknowledgeable infringers.

Thank you.



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