I really hope someone would be able to clear things up, because this question has been bugging me for a long time now.
Google Images (and frequently Google Search as well) shows images associated with your search (kinda the point of an image search engine). Yet, the Google platform is a commercial product and is there to make money by displaying ads. Even non-profit websites like Wikipedia or CC search which ask for donations (i.e. money making albeit not for profit), thereby using images in a 'commercial' (money making) context.
In the UK, commercial use of images may require a licence (a written permission). The licence must be obtained from the author (the photographer) and sometimes the landowner (I believe this is a branch of what is collectively known as 'third-party' rights, property rights in this instance, assuming the author didn't obtain such permissions).
One example could be the UK's famous Durdle Door which requires a licence, if photographs are to be used for commercial purposes. It appears to be a very similar story for sites belonging to National Trust and English Heritage. Yet, there is no shortage of images used in a commercial context without obtaining such licences (apparently) e.g. CC Search, Pixabay, Trip Advisor, Google and many others.
I appreciate this is a branch of the civil law and requires a 3rd party to actually raise it as an issue. I highly doubt any of the websites showing images in a commercial context request a permission from landowners around the UK - an unmanageable task. Yet, it feels like Google (or other websites) would not risk a lawsuit to show images unless they had solid basis they are allowed to do so.
Question: given that photos of many landmarks in the UK require a written permission (i.e. a licence) to be used for a commercial use, how exactly do websites (e.g. Google, TripAdvisor, Wikipedia and others) operate without infringing on 3rd party copyrights?
Clarification: I am less concerned with the author's copyright claims (like those in Perfect 10, Inc. vs Amazon.com, Inc) and more with the 3rd party claims. The UK's government website is pretty clear on that (emphasis mine):
What people cannot do on your land The CROW Act has a list of general restrictions that limit what people using their open access rights may do, unless you give them permission to do something on the list, or the right to do something already exists.
run commercial activities on the land such as:
- trade or sell
- charge other visitors for things they do on your land
- film, photograph or make maps