Creative Commons Beta Search Tool Adds Access to 13 Content Providers, Improves Metadata with AI Image Tags

In February 2017, Creative Commons launched the beta version of its new multi-source search tool, built on a lean budget by a single contractor over seven months. Since that time a new tech team has taken over the project to further the mission of finding and indexing all 1.4 billion+ CC-licensed works on the web.

The first iteration added access to images from Rijksmuseum, Flickr, 500px, the New York Public Library, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Today’s update to the search tool adds access to more than 10 million images and a total of 13 content providers, including Behance, Geograph UK, IHA Holiday Ads, several other museums, and a handful of smaller sources.

The search page is also sporting a new design, featuring Creative Commons’ top categories and top images.

Previously, search results were displayed as a masonry style grid, supporting images of varying sizes and orientations. The updated results are displayed as a slice of a landscape-oriented image on mobile and desktop, which is not optimal for seeing what the image is without clicking on it. This doesn’t seem like an improvement, but the search tool’s development team is still working through bugs and the site is in active development.

This update to the search tool also adds AI image tags generated by Clarifai‘s image classification system. More than 10.3 million images have been tagged using the image recognition software, in addition to the user-defined and platform-defined tags gathered from web crawl data. This should make the search results more accurate for users in the future.

Lists and collections were a feature of the first beta but private lists are no longer available in the beta update. (Users can request they be manually retrieved by emailing Creative Commons.) The feature has been updated to allow users to create public lists of images without having an account. A new shares.cc link shortening system is now available for sharing images and lists.

The Creative Commons library is an excellent resource for finding images for blogging or for use in WordPress theme and plugin development. Images that are CC0-licensed are GPL-compatible for use within WordPress products. Creative Commons has a recommended implementation for using CC0 to release software.

A WordPress plugin for bringing images in from the Creative Commons library does not yet exist but there are many that pull CC-licensed images from resources like Flickr or Pixabay. For now, users will need to search directly on the Creative Commons beta search website. The new search tool allows users to filter by collection, license, and license type.