The forthcoming Image License feature in Google Images is creating a fantastic new opportunity for photographers to market and license images. Google announced plans to discover and badge licensable images with links to pages describing the license governing image use and how to acquire one. Google has provided two options to specify that information: (i) structured data or (ii) IPTC photo metadata. The first option requires structured data to be provided on every page the image appears. The second option only requires IPTC data to be embedded once per image and is therefore more practical for many users.
When IPTC data is added to an image the “Web Statement of Rights” field must contain a valid URL to be eligible for the “Licensable” badge. Google also recommends setting the “Licensor URL” field. Both of those fields can be set and edited by many desktop applications such as Adobe Bridge, Adobe Lightbox, and Photo Mechanic. In the future, Digital Asset Management (DAM) systems will likely support this functionality as well.
Perhaps the most attractive use case for Google’s Image License feature is when the Licensor URL designates “[a] check-out page for that image where the user can select specific resolutions” because image licensing and related monetary transactions can be fully automated. Setting an image-specific “check-out page” with current desktop applications is problematic, however.
The “check-out page” URL is usually not resolved until after the image is published. Thus pre-publication embedding is not feasible. The image-specific check-out page for each image can be ascertained once the images are published. However, using desktop applications to write the URL of the image-specific “check-out page” post-publication is cumbersome. The process entails downloading each image for the desktop operation, embedding the image-specific URL in the image, and replacing the previously published images with the corresponding versions containing the embedded information. It would be similarly cumbersome to write the image-specific URL with DAM applications unless those can communicate with the published image.
A less complicated solution might be to utilize a publishing system which incorporates such metadata editing tools. WordPress and image gallery plugins are attractive e-commerce publishing system options for photographers. WordPress powers over 38% of the world’s websites, NextGEN Gallery is the most widely used gallery plugin. Neither WordPress nor NextGEN natively has the ability to write the fields necessary to facilitate Google’s Image License features.
Team CLink has laid out a solution for providing the “checkout page” URL fully automated in the personal edition of the wpCLink WordPress plugin for non-commercial use. A premium edition with a NextGEN Gallery interface for commercial use is in the works. With the click of a button, users will be able to populate the Licensor URL field of each image in their gallery with a corresponding image-specific cart URL. The premium edition will also provide registered image archive options and will extend the number of supported IPTC and PLUS (Picture Licensing Universal System) metadata fields. Both editions of the wpCLink plugin will continue to offer integrated registration and tracking with persistent and content-based identifiers in a registry accessible to the public.
To see a demonstration please visit https://what.clink.is/demos/premium. Your comments, feedback, and critique are welcome.