Google is beta testing a new way for sites to display licensing information on images that appear in Google Image search. The new licensable image badge uses either IPTC image metadata or a new structured data element. This will make license information a whole lot more visible in the search results, which is a good thing.
This new way for Google to show license information for images has been done in collaboration with CEPIC, which is short for Coordination of European Picture Agencies Stock, Press and Heritage, since June 2018. IPTC and DMLA has also been involved in this new way to help display license information for images in Google Image search.
This new image badge will show up in the image itself during the search and when you click on an image it will also add additional information in the details view.
The two new attributes you can use in the metadata to get this to show up once the feature is released are:
license - A URL to a page that describes the license governing an image’s use. For example, it could be the terms and conditions that you have on your website. Where applicable, it could also be a Creative Commons License (for example, BY-NC 4.0).
acquireLicensePage -A URL to a page where the user can find information on how to license that image. Here are some examples:
A check-out page for that image where the user can select specific resolutions or usage rights
general page that explains how to contact you
This new badge also support standard IPTC tags. This means that in many cases this will show up with no additional effort. That is assuming the image already have the Web Statement of Rights and the Licensor URL meta data filled in.
In the event that you have both the IPTC tags and markup metadata, then Google will use the markup metadata. This is good because that way the image can have the original license, but a different license can be added based on the site itself if they have made a deal with the original creator for example.
For photographers I don't think this will be any changes in the workflow as I think most are already adding the metadata needed. For digital designers however this is not as common so some changes probably will be needed in most workflows. For content owners and system developers the new metadata will need some additional work.
This is similar to when the canonical tag was introduced, but it will be much slower to implement as there are no incentive to add this, at least not in the same way as for the canonical tag which could boost your SEO scores.
Personally I love this and I will absolutely implement this for this blog and other areas where I use images. Not for my own sake, but to make sure the creators get the recognition they deserve.