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What Everyone Must Know About Creative Commons aka Openverse

We introduced “Openverse” to you in our previous article. Let’s dwell further and learn more about the history of Creative Commons, and how it is integrated into WordPress. We’ll also learn more about what Openverse is, what it offers, and what it holds for us in the future!

Openverse is an open-source search engine that collects and houses all CC0 licensed, open-licensed, and public domain works. Openverse has its origin embedded in copyrights, with a long and interesting journey. Before we understand how it will revolutionize WordPress, let’s first get to know about Creative Commons (CC). 

Creative Commons is a nonprofit organization, a global network, and a global movement. It takes its inception from people around the world, who wish to share their knowledge, creativity, and ideas. And all of this on a flexible term rather than following the default copyright laws. This happens via a set of open copyright licenses.

A brief history of Creative Commons

Creative Commons started as a retaliation to the outdated copyright legislation laws. The clock turns back to 1998 when the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act (CTEA) came into effect. CTEA extended the term of copyright for every work to an additional 20 years. This law meant the existing period of 50 years plus 20 years, making it a total of 70 years. This means that 70 years after the creator’s demise, the work will be available publicly.

The end of a copyright term is very important. Because as it gets over and moves to the public domain, it’s subjected to trials, errors, creativity, innovations, experiments, and much more. We all know this is what leads to innovation, and the birth of new patents or copyrights. But for this journey to start, 70 years is a big time to wait.

Lawrence Lessig, a Stanford law professor, representing Eric Eldred, a web publisher, challenged this law, which went up the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. In the end, they lost the case, named Eldred v. Ashcroft.

This did not go as a lost cause and marked the creation of Creative Commons licenses in 2002. This does not mean copyright is gone, it is still present, and it’s automatic whether you like it or not. CC licenses allow creators to share their work (if they wish to!) and still be in line with the copyright laws.

Today, there are over 2 billion CC licenses around the world across 9 million websites. CC licenses allow creativity, remix, and innovation. This goes a long way in nurturing evolution and growth but also in bringing together creators, thinkers, and visionaries. There are still areas where copyright rules hinder all of this, such as documentary films, academic research, and more.

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CC Search: What are Creative Commons?

Announced on 27th April 2021, by Matt Mullenweg that the Creative Commons search engine will join WordPress.org. This was in conjunction with the community’s relentless support and favor towards having a repository of GPL (General Public License) compatible images.

As news spread regarding the shutdown of the CC search engine, the leaders at WordPress grabbed the opportunity. To meet that need and demand of the WordPress community, CC0 (Common Creative Zero) search engine is integrating with WordPress. It will offer over 500 million openly licensed and public domain images discoverable from over 50 sources, audio and video soon to come.

This is an important first step to providing a long-term, sustainable challenger to proprietary libraries like Unsplash. As Matt stated one of the reasons behind the talks of closing down the CC search engine was it was overused. Also, the presence of alternative platforms which were easier to use added to the list of reasons.

Another factor behind the CC search engines being less popular is too many advertisements and/or pop-ups on the websites integrating CC-licensed media. Also, as competition increased many platforms added limitations to the use of images. (which is a good thing for Openverse, you’ll know why later)

Codename Classified (not really): Project Openverse

To tackle the issues CC faced and keep it afloat, Matt disclosed about CC acquisition and its integration into WordPress. The goal was to have a clean, open-source, and ad-free site that’s accessible via the Media Library. Automattic also hired the leading team of CC Search for a lucid and comfortable Openverse project integration in WordPress.

This acquisition is getting structural and design changes with a lot of integrations. As the future looks bright and sharp, so does the journey. All this calls for a new name, and thus, Openverse. Thus, Creative Commons is Openverse, but only in terms of structural framework.

The name takes its inspiration from the fusion of Open and Universe. 

The name puts the main aim into the spotlight, i.e., ‘To create a space where content is gathered, shared, and reused’. This space will also nurture innovation, and creativity, and will also deepen the bonds in the WordPress community.

Creative Commons
“Creative Commons” by jorgeandresem is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

What is Creative Commons aka Openverse?

Openverse is an open-source search engine that collects and houses all CC0 licensed, open-licensed, and public domain works. These include images from open APIs and the Common Crawl dataset.

The integration of Openverse and WordPress goes a step beyond CC search. It now brings results from multiple public repositories into a single catalog, facilitating ease-of-use, and reuse. All this will be on the table with breakthrough features like one-click meta-tag generation, attribution, etc.

Openverse is a project that allows you to access all kinds of media or works with a CC license. On the other hand, you can also contribute by adding your work with a CC license. Although you’re expected to access it via the media library, they plan to make the Openverse available to other CMS such as Drupal or Joomla.

What Openverse offers

The landing page for the Openverse Frontend (Github: Openverse-frontend) provides users with a search engine that offers access to the Openverse Catalog. This catalog houses more than 1.4 billion Creative Commons licensed works. Check out the Openverse frontend here.

The Openverse API repository houses the backend infrastructure, servers, and APIs. The frontend interacts with the API to provide search results. Like any search engine, when you write anything, it will show you the set of images that match that term. You can also filter the images by license, use cases, image type, file type, aspect ratio, size, etc.

At the moment, Openverse offers a search for images. The Audio and Video tabs provide you with different links that allow you access to other CC-licensed information sources. You can also download the Openverse extension for Chrome, Firefox, Opera, and Edge. This added functionality offers a seamless experience right from downloading images to integrating them into your blog/website. All of this at a single click, without moving to different web pages.

Get your CC search extension here: Openverse Extension. Once you download the image and attribution, you can drag the image to the page or post, and paste the attribution that you have copied into the image caption.

Where does the content on Openverse come from?

There is openly licensed content available, which is hosted on millions of domains across the realm of the internet. The team of Openverse identifies providers hosting CC-licensed content. If it’s a good fit for them, they index it and make it discoverable through Openverse.

Openverse feels grateful for the work of Europeana, an organization that works to digitize and make discoverable cultural heritage works across Europe. Openverse can index hundreds of valuable sources, through a single integration with the Europeana API.

Read to know more about how the Openverse team decides what sources to add next to their search engine.

Takeaways

Openverse is a fairly new project and is in its initial stages, but the way ahead does seem promising. The Openverse team is constantly working to achieve their goals, optimize the search engine, and adapt it to search for all types of media, etc.

The WordPress community continues to support and help smoothen the integration of Openverse. There are more than 100 people pledging time to contribute to Openverse. Feel like contributing to Openverse? Click here to know more.

There are a lot of challenges ahead for Openverse. One of the major issues is to find and catalog all the different Creative Commons license media available on the internet. One good news coming soon: Openverse will be providing Creative Commons videos, audio, etc. This will be one step into making it a hub for all of WordPressers’ needs.

The future holds immense potential for Openverse. A lot of work is underway, and you will soon get updates with confirmation from the Openverse team. Till then, contribute your part, and help Openverse grow to its full glory!

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