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Revisiting the Openverse: Finding Open Images and Audio

Better Internet, Licenses & Tools, Technology
Blurry bluish-black image of stars or lights at night seen through a transparent screen marked with smeared human handprints.
art is the universe creating itself as it goes” by submerged~, here slightly cropped, is marked with Public Domain Mark 1.0.

Looking for that perfect picture to illustrate your post? That catchy tune to jazz up your video? Look no further than Openverse, the huge library of free and open stock photos, images, and audio contributed to the public commons by people around the world, now available at its new domain:

Here at CC we use Openverse daily to explore the public commons and find works to reuse in our communications and projects. Powerful tools like Openverse demonstrate how open technologies and communities like WordPress can build on the rich public commons we all help create to support what we call better sharing: sharing that is inclusive, just and equitable — where everyone has wide opportunity to access content, to contribute their own creativity, and to receive recognition and rewards for their contributions.

Finding and using free and open works has never been easier: Just visit Openverse, enter some keywords, and pick your favorite from the results. You can also filter by content type, sources, aspect ratio, size, open license and public domain statuses, and more, like the search for the keywords “art” and “universe” we used to find the image in this post.

Once you’ve picked a work, Openverse provides everything you need to use it: Visit the work in its home collection and copy a well-formed attribution statement to give proper credit for your use.

Openverse was incubated here at CC as “CC Search”, moving to the WordPress community in 2021, and has continued to thrive in its new home, now cataloging over 600 million images and audio tracks, with new collections of open works being added all the time, like the recent addition of more than 15 million images from iNaturalist, the project that enables citizen scientists and researchers to document and understand global biodiversity.

Contributors in the WordPress community continue to add new features and capabilities to Openverse. Coming up next will be new tools to easily use images from Openverse directly in WordPress itself; content safety features that will enable users to blur or opt in/out from specific types of sensitive content; and improvements to search relevancy and the quality of results.

Can you help expand the Openverse?

As a creator, share your work to the commons with a CC open license or CC0 dedication to the public domain on one of sources already cataloged in Openverse.

Do you know a great collection of open works? Suggest a new source for Openverse.

Do you have communication and/or technical skills? Join the Openverse contributor team and help with things like testing new features, writing documentation, contributing code, and amplifying news from the project. Have a look at Openverse’s good first issues or their guide for new contributors.

Posted 09 February 2023