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IPTC and Google Images: Frequently Asked Questions

Have you just clicked the “learn more” link in a Google images search results page? Do you have questions about an image that you found on Google? Read on to have all your questions answered.

I found picture of myself when searching Google for my name. Could you please remove it?

Screenshot of Google image search results panel showing IPTC metadata

Screenshot of Google image search results panel showing IPTC metadata. Image credit: Associated Press / Google

We at IPTC don’t create or manage any images, we have created the technical standard that image creators can use to put their creator and copyright details (“photo metadata”) inside the image files. Google extracts this information in their search results and displays it to help you find who owns the image.

To have an image removed from a web site, so that it doesn’t appear in search results, you will need to contact the site that is hosting the image.

In the example image shown on the right, the Nelson Mandela image was created by a photographer called Dennis Farrell, and published by AP (the Associated Press news agency) and the copyright is owned by AP. The link above the page title shows that the image is hosted by Connecticut Public Radio, so if you wanted to ask for this image to be removed, you should follow that link, find the contact details for the people who run the Connecticut Public Radio site, and ask them to remove or change the image.

Since neither IPTC nor Google operate the website that is hosting the image, we can’t remove the image from the web for you.

Please see this Google Search Help post for more information from Google on removing images from Google search results.

I would like to obtain a licence to re-use an image that I found on Google search. Can you help me?

We at IPTC did not create the image and we don’t own the copyright to it. We simply make the technical standard that the image owner has used to state their ownership of the image.

Image on Google search results showing "Get this image on" link

Image on Google search results showing “Get this image on” link. Image credit: Getty Images / Google

If the image is displayed on Google with a”Get this image on” link, you can simply follow the link (in this example the clickable “Getty Images” text) to go to the image owner’s site to learn about how you can obtain the image.

Otherwise, if the “License details” link is active, you can view the licence to see if the image is usable without entering into a bespoke licence from the owner – for example, it may be licensed under Creative Commons Attribution, which only requires that you give credit to the original image creator.

If neither of those two links are available, the “Copyright”, “Credit” or “Creator” fields may lead you to the image owner. You may have to search for the image owner to find out how to contact them. You can also try using the IPTC “Get PMD” tool on the image, which may show additional IPTC metadata fields such as the image creator’s contact details for the image creator.

If none of those options work, a Google reverse image search might help you to find the original image and then contact the creator to ask for a licence.

I run a web site and my images don’t have metadata appearing on Google image search results. How do I add my own metadata?

First of all, you should check that the original images contain embedded IPTC Photo Metadata – you can use the tool or the IPTC Photo Inspector browser extensions to check. If the images don’t contain any metadata, see the Quick guide to IPTC Photo Metadata and Google Images for information on how to embed it yourself.

If you are sure that the images you are adding to your site contain embedded metadata but it is not displayed when using the GetPMD tool or on Google search results, then the metadata is probably being stripped from your images by some software on your site – either your Digital Asset Management system (such as Bynder), your Content Management System (such as WordPress or Drupal) or a Content Delivery Network (such as Cloudflare or Cloudinary).

Advice on turning off the metadata-stripping “feature” varies according to the tools that you are using, so unfortunately we can’t give advice for every tool. But generally, you should look in your app’s configuration settings to see if you can switch off the automatic stripping function. 

I own my own photographs that I host on the web and I would like Google to display creator, credit, copyright and licensing information on them. How can I do that?

We have written a guide for image owners, Quick guide to IPTC Photo Metadata and Google Images, which explains how to add IPTC Photo Metadata to your images using several popular image editing tools.

I have another question that is not listed above. Who can I ask?

Please use the IPTC Contact Us Form to send us your question and we will try to respond in a timely manner.