Google Streetview has since 20017 captured the world in 360 degrees photos. If you want to travel without moving, this is an almost inexhaustible source of images. Because as can be seen below, many European countries have been recorded. One of our neighbours has very high privacy standards and thus Google Streetview has got no foothold in Germany.
Read more about this Inverse.com
Then the next question is; are you allowed to (re) use Google Streetview photos?
Google itself speaks on their own website that they use a fair-use policy. Only then the question arises is the automatic creation of 360-degree photos with a camera on top of a car protected by copyright? For copyright, a creation must have its own and original character (Read more on Wikipedia). And that is where the shoe pinches, as according to Arnoud Engelfried this is not the case with Google Streetview (link to Dutch article).
No, there is no copyright (copyright) on the photos that the Google Streetview car has made. That car (see for example this photo) has a fixed camera mounted on the roof, which is adjusted to take a picture every so many seconds. There is absolutely no creativity of the driver. And without creativity from the creator of the photo, there can be no question of copyright.
So we can use Streetview in our VR productions. And that’s great because Google has been almost everywhere. And thanks to the time-travel function you can go back in time, so you can visit the Fair on the Dam in 2016.
Or you can look around in time at the famous Shibuya crossroads in Tokio.
Only how can you use these photos?
Obviously, Google has not made that easy, but with a few tricks, it’s easy.
- Go to the relevant photo in Streetview and copy the url e.g.
- take the ID code after “1s” and the first exclamation mark;; ud6famfjpHJGVQeuNZwpFw!2e0
- Download iStreetview on svd360.istreetview.com
- Use the ID to download the panorama in the desired resolution. Be aware, some photos still can be copyrighted as they are made with a Drone or underwater.
Is Google not creative at all? Even on creativity, they are using computers, as can be seen on google.github.io/creatism/ where they use AI to create beautiful views from Google Streetview photos.
And not creative does not mean that there are no beautiful images to be found:
- El Capitan Yosmite parc
- Old Bunker
- Visit downtown Bogota
- Go to an abandoned Island in Japan