Creative Commons Gives Its Search Engine a Big Refresh

The organization behind the popular licensing standard has launched a new search engine that aims to make it easier for creators to find works that can easily be reused and remixed online.

The nonprofit organization behind the Creative Commons licensing standard has launched an ambitious, long-in-the-works project with the goal of making it easier to access CC-licensed content.

This week, the organization took its CC Search portal out of beta, making it easy to search more than 300 million images in the public domain available in 19 different databases, including Flickr, Rawpixel, DeviantArt, and a wide variety of museums around the world. The images are pulled from a dataset called Common Crawl, and the resulting search engine is fairly speedy.

The new search engine makes attribution easier for users to copy and share. In a 2017 blog post announcing the beta version of CC Search, Creative Commons CEO Ryan Merkley said that although the previous search tool had almost 600,000 users a month, “we can do better.”

“There is no ‘front door’ to the commons, and the tools people need to curate, share, and remix works aren’t yet available,” Merkley wrote. “We want to make the commons more usable, and this is our next step in that direction.”

The organization plans to expand the collection in the coming months to provide access to Wikimedia Commons and Europeana, two major image sources, and hopes to add textbooks and audio content.

“While our ultimate goal remains the same (to provide access to all 1.4 billion works in the commons), we are initially focused on images that creators desire to reuse in meaningful ways, learning about how these images are reused in the wild, and incorporating that learning back into CC Search,” Jane Park, the nonprofit’s director of product and research, wrote in a blog post this week.

Just two months ago, Creative Commons had major win for its long-term growth: After Flickr changed its business model following a change in ownership, the nonprofit worked with the service’s new owner, the company SmugMug, to maintain its Creative Commons archives—and allow users to continue to use Flickr  to upload CC-licensed photos for free, without upload limits.

You can find anything on this search engine, even photos of corgis. (Creative Commons screenshot)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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