The decision has come as part of a settlement between Google and the stock photo agency.
Earlier this month, the two firms had agreed that images from Getty’s enormous archives would start appearing inside Google Search, but that was not the only part of the deal.
The “View Image” button would redirect users directly to the image’s own URL, without visiting the publisher’s page first; this apparently brought up privacy concerns, which led Google to eliminate the button entirely.
“For those asking, yes, these changes came about in part due to our settlement with Getty Images this week,” the company said in a tweet. “They are designed to strike a balance between serving user needs and publisher concerns, both stakeholders we value.”
Google was also quick to say that, despite the clear inconvenience for users, the other popular Image feature — reverse image search — has remained.
Reverse image search allows users to drag and drop a picture directly into Google Images’ search bar, and have the engine search for matching images on the web.
Today we’re launching some changes on Google Images to help connect users and useful websites. This will include removing the View Image button. The Visit button remains, so users can see images in the context of the webpages they’re on. pic.twitter.com/n76KUj4ioD
— Google SearchLiaison (@searchliaison) February 15, 2018
But critics said the changes were “awful”, “user-unfriendly” and “degraded the product”.
“This is a terrible idea… you find an image on Google Images only for the image to be nowhere in sight,” said one user on Twitter. “Talk about destroying your own successful service.”
Such a terrible update, please reverse that, we LIVE for the “search by image” and “view image”, that’s the purpose for Google Imagens, unless it’s useless, lbh
— Gui Leite (@guialeite) February 15, 2018
Many suggested people should try rival image search engines such as Bing, which still have a “view image” button.
Others pointed out that right-clicking an image in Google’s Chrome browser, and clicking “open image in new tab” replicated the missing function.
In a statement, Getty Images said: “We are pleased to announce that after working cooperatively with Google over the past months, our concerns are being recognised and we have withdrawn our complaint.”