Yahoo & Google’s Search for Reusable Images and the Flickr Commons

When I read about Yahoo Image Search’s recent addition of a filter to return only creative commons Flickr images, I got all excited about what this might mean for images in the Flickr Commons. So I raced off to the Yahoo Image Search page to see how it works. The short answer is that the new special rights setting of  no known copyright restrictions that they created for members of the Flickr Commons apparently doesn’t count.

For my test I searched for an exact match on “Ticket with portrait of George Washington”. This returns one result – the one image in Flickr with the same name, from The Field Museum in Flickr Commons. If you click on the ‘More Filters’ link, you will see other ways to filter your Creator permits reuse - Yahoo image searchresults – including the option to restrict your results to only include images whose creators permit reuse.

Next I clicked in the ‘Creator allows reuse’ and my one result disappeared! Quite disappointing in my book.

Google is also getting onto the ‘make it easy to search for reusable images’ bandwagon. Search Engine Land reported that Google Images Quietly Adds Creative Commons Filter. That post pointed me to Google  Operating System‘s search interface that lets you play with the options that Google has available. After a clicking through to some of the images returned by a Google Image Search for creative commons images of archives, the way the Google model appears to work is to look for creative commons badges or links on the page with the image. I even found Flickr creative commons images, but when I tried to find my Flickr Commons image of the ticket used above for my Yahoo image search experiment it wasn’t returned by Google either.

So if an archives (or museum or library) posts images on a page that indicates that the content is licensed under creative commons, it seems those images will then appear in Google’s image search as reusable. That is good news! Another way to get users to find your public domain images.

The question I am left is how to resolve the gap between Flickr Commons’ ‘no known copyright restrictions  rights statement and both Google and Yahoo’s definition of reusable content.

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Posted on 13th June 2009
Under: access, copyright, photography, search | No Comments » | Print This Post Print This Post

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