Creative Commons Launches Own Search Engine, Catalogue of Over 300 Million Free Images

Creative Commons Launches Own Search Engine, Catalogue of Over 300 Million Free Images

After more than two years of beta testing, nonprofit organization Creative Commons has just launched its own search engine. And with over 300 million images available, here’s hoping it proves to be worth the wait.

The search engine is intended for use when searching the commons’ archive of free content available in the public domain, essentially collating all results in one easy place. Upon a search, it presents all relevant results of images that are available for usage under Creative Commons licenses, with the company claiming a catalog to the huge figure of 300 million images upon the service’s launch.

The company developed the catalog after numbers on its site began to increase. Back in February 2017, CC said it was seeing nearly 60,000 users search its site per month, hence the desire to beta test a new and improved search experience.

Ryan Merkley, Creative Commons CEO, said:

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

Searches draw upon sites such as Flickr and 500px, but also the New York Public Library and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Future plans include expanding to include indexing other CC-licensed works, like open textbooks and audio.

You can make a search of your own right here.

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24 Comments

Michael Jin's picture

This is actually AWESOME.

did you see this images?

Michael Jin's picture

Doesn't matter at all. It's a method to search for free-to-use images for creative purposes. You get what you pay for. This is really helpful if you're in any type of work where the use of placeholder images is helpful to visualize things or if you're just working on some personal project where you're not going to make any money anyway.

Steve Pellegrino's picture

It's actually NOT awesome. I've been searching through photos of Ferguson, Missouri and have found several that I have taken that are attributed to someone else and at least one iconic one from a St. Louis Post-Dispatch photojournalist which is also attributed to someone else. I've sent this over to a few other photographers I know who were also there so they too can go through these as well.

So Ferguson is just one subject matter. How many other photographs of other stories are there on CC where photographers are being ripped off?

Michael Jin's picture

"and have found several that I have taken that are attributed to someone else and at least one iconic one from a St. Louis Post-Dispatch photojournalist which is also attributed to someone else."

This is DEFINITELY a problem and, like the same thing that happens on Unsplash, there really isn't a great solution for it outside of some sort of centralized image database with global reach along with incorporating AI that can scan the image content rather than just read metadata. Then you need that solution to be able to handle sheer volume. I don't imagine that we'll see a perfect solution to this anytime soon.

yanpekar's picture

I tried to search for some images on this platform. Most of the images I see are very low quality, have nothing to do with quality or professional photography and have people on them. In some countries you will not be able to use images with people without having their written permission (especially with the new regulation in Europe). Searching for "Barcelona" (for example; I searched for other things as well) returned a lot of irrelevant photos of very low quality, hence the images do not seem to be optimised for searching / tagging. Taking the above into account, it seems to be more "quantity" rather than quality. What is the point of dumping millions of low quality images which are barely optimised for search and do not present much of a value in terms of quality? Author, did you try the platform before promoting it in such a positive way? Testing is a process which is implemented to improve a quality of a product. I appreciate that two years have been spent testing the platform, and it may have helped with the quality of the platform back end, but why do you offer such low quality content with barely optimised search capabilities? What kind of a user would benefit from it?

Michael Jin's picture

You get what you pay for. If you want high quality images, commission photography or buy stock (or go on Unsplash which has a very limited selection). This is just a place to find free images for creative uses. It's not a place to find high quality free stock photography.

It's just nice to find these images in a single place rather than scattered across the web on various websites where you have to try to figure out whether or not something has a creative commons license.

yanpekar's picture

Michael, the platform contains very low quality crap photos. I do not really know who in their right mind would use this crap for "creative purpose" (as you have defined it), really. Why would anyone spend two years creating and testing this platform if it does not deliver a quality product is beyond my understanding. You may consider looking at the images and trying search capabilities first, before protecting it.

Michael Holst's picture

Subjective. One man's trash is another man's treasure. Like Michael said, you get what you pay for. Why do you feel entitled to high quality images when you're not paying for them?

Michael Jin's picture

Honestly, I see it as a search engine. Like any search engine, the results are only going to be as good as what's available out there. Also, like any search engine, it will probably take some time for the better (read: more popular) results to surface to the top. This isn't a curated collection of art. You go into it with the understanding that you're basically rummaging through a gigantic flea market to try to find what you are looking for. If you don't like it, don't use it. Simple as that.

As for "who in their right mind would use this crap for 'creative purpose', plenty of people say that about people who shoot with Holga cameras yet a lot of us choose to shoot with them, anyway. Many of us also happen to run some rather expensive film through them while we're at it. Art is subjective.

yanpekar's picture

Michael, I honestly do not see any value in your comment. If you are fine with using a poor service with low quality images (which are hardly usable to be posted anywhere), that is your choice. I do not have time nor desire to have an argument with you. All the best.

Michael Jin's picture

I guess the feeling is mutual then because I don't really see any value in your comments.

I'm so sorry that you feel that a completely free service that you had no part in developing and devoted absolutely no resources to support has disappointed you. I am so sorry that Creative Commons is not filled with high-quality, professional, images that people are giving away free free. Perhaps you should do your part to help out this situation by putting all of your photography (which is obviously high quality) under Creative Commons and giving it away for free for other artists to use.

Get over yourself, dude.

yanpekar's picture

Michael, defending a poor service is not wise. Looks like you are just looking for a fight. Moreover, giving advice to professional photographers to give their photos for free is not wise either (some would say "stupid"). All the best, "dude".

Michael Jin's picture

Wow.. You know what? You're right. This is a complete waste of time because either you're super dense or something really basic is being lost in translation.

yanpekar's picture

Glad you understand. I have no time nor desire to argue with you. No point. You have your opinion, I have mine. It is totally fine to have different opinions. All the best.

Michael Jin's picture

Indeed. Take care.

Michael Holst's picture

"I appreciate that two years have been spent testing the platform, and it may have helped with the quality of the platform back end, but why do you offer such low quality content with barely optimised search capabilities?"

Mr Alexander didn't create it...

Toby Seb's picture

The photos on there are shit. Mostly crappy amateur snaps.

Michael Holst's picture

Yea... They're free... What did you expect?

Michael Jin's picture

You get what you pay for. Want to improve the quality? Feel free to donate.

John Dawson's picture

Old "news". I read this elsewhere days ago.

Michael Jin's picture

It's amazing how people will complain about a completely free service that they spent absolutely nothing of their own in order to develop. One would think that someone was forcing them to use it.

John Dawson's picture

(deleted)

John Dawson's picture

It's called Creative "Commons' for a reason. It's the OG Unsplash.