No, this is nothing to do with Facebook – Openverse was actually announced before Facebook’s similarly named Metaverse. And to understand what Openverse is, we first need to know what Creative Commons is.
What’s Creative Commons?
Creative Commons, often simply referred to as “CC”, is an organisation that promotes the sharing of legally shareable online content. As part of this, they’ve created a number of licenses. Wikipedia makes use of them and you can allocate content on Flickr, for example, with such a license too.
How does this relate to Openverse?
As part of its work, Creative Commons had its own search engine, designed to specifically look for CC-labelled content across the web. However, last year, there were rumours that it was going to shutter this part of their organisation. In stepped Automattic Inc., the company behind the commercial hosting company WordPress.com (and my employer!), who bought the search from Creative Commons and then provided it to WordPress.org, the producers of the WordPress software.
WordPress, as an open-source project, relies on its community for everything from organising meet-ups to writing code. This includes businesses, who make money off the back of such work, to do their bit. Automattic has a “5 for the future” plan, where at least 5% of employees’ time goes towards working within this community. Automattic has hired key members of the CC Search team and will sponsor their contributions as part of this commitment.
Now separate from the Creative Commons organisation, it was renamed Openverse.
Searching with Openverse
You can find Openverse at search.openverse.engineering or wordpress.org/openverse. From there you can search for CC content from across the internet, including specifying if you want to use the results commercially or modify/adapt them – similar to other free stock image websites.
Only images are available right now, but video and audio will likely be added in the future.
Once you have search results, you can further filter the results by specific licenses too, as well as image type and a whole host of other options.:
Browser extensions are available to make search and adding results to a web page incredibly simple.