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Monday, 19 February 2018 12:06

More theatrics from Google, this time it's images

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Google often indulges in theatrics, where it pretends that it is doing what it is required to do. In reality, the 800-lb search gorilla is laughing heartily at having apparently hoodwinked everyone.

Earlier, this month iTWire  detailed how Google indulges in security theatre, in order to try and make people believe it is serious about security.

The most recent case involves images. In April 2016, Google was hit with a complaint by Getty Images under EU competition law, accusing it of creating galleries of “high-resolution, copyrighted content", and “promoting piracy resulting in widespread copyright infringement".

Remember the EU is the one which has had the guts to fine Google €2.42 billion (US$2.7 billion) for allegedly abusing its search engine dominance to give illegal advantage to its own comparison shopping service. Google also faces EU fines over its AdSense advertising system and its Android mobile operating system.

Hence, it was in Google's interest to pretend that it was doing something to satisfy Getty. But what it has done is a joke.

The company said it would remove the "View Image" button that appears when one views an image after locating it by using the Images search option. This View Image button, when clicked, allows a user to see the image alone on a blank Web page, presumably to be saved and used.

But removing that does little good. A user can use a context menu, that is available with a right-click of one's mouse, and save the image using the "Save Image as" option. This option is present in both Chrome (Google's own browser which has a 56% share of the browser market) and Firefox.

Or one can obtain an extension for Chrome that provides the same functionality that the View Image button did.

So how does losing the View Image button help in keeping down the frequency of copyrighted images being used without proper authorisation? Truth be told, it is a figleaf.

Google's act is what is described in Hindi as naam ke vaaste – doing a thing simply for the sake of doing something, anything, in order to con someone else into believing one has done what one was supposed to do.

If Google was serious about preventing the unauthorised use of copyrighted images, it could have removed the "save image as" option on the context menu that appears when one right-clicks on an image within Chrome.

But then when was Google serious about anything except grabbing users' personal data in order to monetise it?

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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