I'm copying a post I wrote under a thread called "Visitors decline" (with some minor additions). First off all a message to the Mods: if this is a violation of the site guidelines I apologize - please delete this thread. I am copying it over as a separate thread for two reasons 1) the old thread started as a general discussion about a site losing visitors and that makes this bit of info hard to find and 2) I really think this is a big deal that webmasters need to be aware of. Google recently made some major changes to their image search. There has been a few post on this forum about the change (one by R0meo at least), but surprisingly little discussion. Online in general though, there is quite a bit of an outcry. What Google has basically done is to replace what was possibly justifiable under so called "fair use" as an image search engine with thumbnails, with effectively the world largest private online gallery. Basically they are taking millions of copyright protected images, scraping them off the net and placing them in their own online gallery, making a fortune in the process. Google has been through the courts many times before because of their previous image gallery search function, and many cases are still pending. Google has so far managed to defend themselves against injunctions because it was seen as likely that the use was "fair use" (even though Google lost a number of district court cases). I am not so sure their amended image gallery will be able to survive similar court cases. Their new Google image search function does not link a click on a thumbnail to the original site. Instead it opens a large version of the image inside the Google image search in the style of an online gallery. That, in my opinion, is stealing and hardly constitute fair use. This will also explain why traffic to your sites may be down. While Google used to show the thumbnail and then open the original website with an enlarged version of the image on top of it, now it simply shows you the full image with a small button saying "click to see the website". That would explain why many people generating referral visits from Google images now have lost nearly all that traffic. It is not so bad if your own use of the image is under "fair use" or from free databases such as Wiki commons - but imagine that you are the photographer and original copyright holder. Google is now effectively withholding traffic that you used to get in return for their use of your images. Or imagine, as is the case for many of my sites, you have paid royalties for the use of the images - Google is now, for free under the pretense of "fair use", letting you pay the fees for the use of the images and then copying them into their own gallery without neither paying nor sending any traffic to you. And the best part is that they don't actually host the images, so they are also stealing your bandwidth. Hopefully some greedy law firm specializing in copyright class actions will eventually pick up on this like someone once did on the Google book search. In general I do not dislike Google, but this is just stealing and no other website would get away with it. Imagine that you copied all the images you found online and made your own gallery, just with a small link saying "click here to see the website I stole this from". You'd have you ass sued so bad you would have to stand for the rest of your life. Until Google has to go back to a variation of their old image search (2025 if we are lucky), all you can basically do is to block Google from indexing your images. But of course that won't replace the traffic you've lost. Possibly some dev wiz here can come up with a way of allowing Google to index the images and generate thumbnails, but block Google from displaying the full image in their own gallery window. I am not sure if there are referrer indications that can be picked up and used to display a big banner saying "Google is stealing images, visit www.here.com to see this image instead"... Again I apologize for the near duplicate posts, but I feel very strongly about this and also a lot of the confusion re the Jan Google web search updates and the loss of traffic discussed on many threads here and elsewhere, may partly be due to people losing image search related traffic (they happened at nearly the same time).