This February, New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art released 375,000 digital works under a Creative Commons licence that allows anyone, including bloggers, to use the images without paying for them. In theory, it’s a great resource, and it joins similar resources available from museums around the world. In practice, I rarely use images from these sources in my articles because searching through lots of different image databases would be a significant investment of time.
I, along with most other bloggers, tend to stick with Unsplash and other image sources we can rely on to provide high-quality content with an acceptable licence. Unsplash is awesome, but if you’re a regular blog reader, you can’t have failed to notice that some images become familiar. The same images are used on many blog posts, which isn’t great if your aim is to stand out from the crowd.
In an effort to make it easier for people to find Creative Commons images from multiple sources without having to open lots of tabs and go fishing, the Creative Commons organisation is beta testing a new search interface that ties together of sources of high-quality CC media.
The new CC Search prototype is still in beta, and it doesn’t yet include the full range of planned sources, but it does provide results from some incredible collections, including the Metropolitan Museum Of Art, the New York Public Library, the Rijksmuseum, 500px, and Flickr.
Each search can be filtered by source, so you can exclude those you aren’t interested in. I often exclude Flickr from my Creative Commons searches because, although there are many high-quality images on Flickr, they’re outnumbered by holiday snaps and other images I’m unlikely to want to use in an article.
Although it’s possible to search by image title, creator, and tags, I hope that more flexible filtering options are added in the future. One of the major benefits of Flickr’s native search is the ability to sort results by popularity and relevance, which pushes the less appealing results down the page.
I’d also like to see the addition of sources that are available on the current Creative Commons search page, including Wikimedia Commons and Pixabay, although, unlike the beta, the current CC search isn’t really a search engine at all, it simply redirects users to the search pages of the various platforms.
A particularly nice feature of the new search engine is the way it makes attributing images straightforward. Each search result displays clear attribution data, and it’s possible to copy text and HTML attribution snippets with one click on each image’s page.
I use Creative Commons resources every day, and I’m happy to see the organisation responsible for bringing us such an amazing resource is working to make CC media more discoverable. They’re a largely untapped resource that bloggers and designers can use for inspiration and to inject some originality into their articles.