WordPress 6.2 Brings Openverse Backend and Things to Consider

WordPress 6.2, scheduled for release on March 28, 2023, will provide access to the Openverse via Block Editor, a (currently “only”) search engine for images and audio files, all licensed under Creative. Commons license or public domain and is free. Free images and audio files sound good at first, but as you know, where there’s light, there’s also shadow.

Building the Openverse

Openverse, originally CC Search, was the prototype for Creative Commons and was launched in February 2017. In May 2021, Openverse became an official WordPress project ( timeline , history ). In February 2023, Openverse moved to the openverse.org domain.

Openverse is a very ambitious project with further goals, so future searches should also include video, open texts and 3D models. It currently provides access to more than 700 million items of content (images and audio data).

In the Openverse block editor

Starting with WordPress 6.2, the Media tab will appear on the left sidebar of the block editor and after clicking on the block inserter (plus icon). There you will find Openverse.

Clicking on Openverse brings up a sidebar that already shows some images in addition to the search field.

You can enter your search in German (and possibly other languages ​​as well), but with English search terms you get significantly more results. The example below searched for “cat”.

There are 2 options when inserting images

version 1

Clicking on one of the images in the search results bar immediately places it in the table of contents and also uploads it to the media library. If you click this image again, it will also be immediately inserted and uploaded to your media library. Thus, the image is physically stored twice in the media library, but the second image is given a different name (sequential numbering). A third click on the same image will display the image a third time…etc.

Option 2

When you click on one of the images in the search result bar, a message window appears that this image will be inserted externally (more on that in a moment), after clicking the “Insert” button, the image is inserted into the content , the upload to the media library does not occur.

It is not clear above whether the image is uploaded to the media library or integrated from external sources.


Each image posted is automatically captioned with various links containing additional information on provenance, authorship and license, including links directly to the sources.

Creative Commons license

As mentioned above, all Openverse content is either under a Creative Commons license or in the public domain. If the work is licensed under the Creative Commons CC0 license (read the summary of the license text version 1.0 in English), the copyright owner (or rather, the uploader of the work) waives all copyright and related rights worldwide, to the extent legally possible. Copyright waivers in Germany are controversial to say the least (see next paragraph).

public property

Quote from Wikipedia “In Anglo-Saxon common law, the legal term public domain means ‘without copyright’. The meaning of English terms such as copyright and public domain cannot simply be transferred to the German terms ‘copyright’ and ‘public freedom’.

For example, Anglo-Saxon copyright does not recognize any clear moral rights, which in continental European legal systems can lead to certain uses being unacceptable in certain cases as a violation of the author’s personal rights, despite the fact that the document is in the public domain. creation; In France, even with a perpetual duration. For the same reason, relinquishing copyright and making the work public is not problematic, while in continental Europe it is controversial and, according to the prevailing opinion, inadmissible.

Sources – Where does Openverse content come from?

The list of currently used 46 image sources and 3 audio file sources can be called up on this page.


Quote Openverse: Please note that Openverse does not verify that images are properly CC-licensed or that the attribution and other licensing information compiled by the WordPress.org team is accurate or complete. Please independently verify license status and attribution information before using content. Please read the Openverse Terms of Service for more details.

Things to consider when using Openverse content

You can be responsible

Neither Creative Commons nor Openverse assumes any responsibility for copyright infringement, license violations, or any other legal disputes related to the content. In the event of a dispute, you may be solely responsible.

Notice (below refers to all mentions of personal liability)

Of course, in case of a claim, you can contact the person who illegally uploaded the work and put it under a free license – if you can find them.

A review of each individual image

As shown in the cat photos in the Licenses section, every image posted through Openverse receives a caption with information and additional links. Follow these links, read the license carefully and follow it. As mentioned, the images come from 46 different sources, so be sure to check the image source’s terms of use as well.

Images from external sources via Openverse

The information window (see option 2 above) already describes the latent dangers that can arise from this option. In addition to technical issues, such as providing different image sizes or the possibility that such an image may be removed by an external source, there are legal issues and potential violations.

Data is transferred to third parties when integrating a photo from an external source. Anyone who has seen the wave of warnings about Google Fonts being integrated into Google’s servers can imagine what this could mean for photos.

image editing

The block editor offers different ways to edit or crop an image. Does the license cover editing/cutting? You should also check it out.

More danger

What if the person who uploaded the image doesn’t even own the copyright? What if another person (with the copyright) warns you and/or demands compensation? Unlike many commercial photo-sharing sites, which (if you’ve followed the licenses correctly) are liable (read the terms of service!), you can be liable in this case.

It’s child’s play, like creating a fake account on Flickr. Now, if someone posts photos with a free license (a free account on Flickr allows you to upload 1000 photos) with malicious intent (to collect money or just for fun to harm others) or if someone out of ignorance, you are also liable for using them for such photos responsibility.

If someone unknowingly uploads their photos of other people (without their permission) and publishes them under a free license, you may be responsible for the use of that photo (keywords “image rights” if the person’s photo is not “property” ). On commercial stock photo sites, you’re usually protected by model releases (check if they’re available!).

The example “Photos with copies of other people” is only one of several. Another example is ‘panoramic freedom’, where there are national differences. While in some countries when taking pictures e.g. B. monuments are allowed in public space, or not at all indoors, there are countries where freedom of panorama is practically non-existent. Here is a photo from Wikipedia that outlines the freedom of panorama in Europe. See this Wikipedia article for more information. When using free images from Openverse, it may happen that information about the origin (or country) of the recorded object is missing.

WordPress photo directory

Another non-Openverse project is the WordPress Photo Directory, which currently has 6,646 photos with free licenses. Anyone with an active WordPress account can upload photos to it. There are some terms that must be approved in advance. The rule prohibits photos containing human faces. Each photo is reviewed by the WordPress community before being published. The liability issues and potential liability cases are in many ways identical to those described above for Openverse — WordPress.org also quickly creates a fake account.

Disable Openverse

Using a code snippet, Openverse can be removed from the block editor again. This code is placed in your child theme’s functions.php file (preferably at the end), or you can use a plugin like “Code Snippets”. This code has been tested to work with WordPress 6.2 RC 3.

	function( $settings ) {
		$settings['enableOpenverseMediaCategory'] = false;

		return $settings;

Code Snippet Source

Free licenses at all

The above recommendations and notes do not apply to Openverse (except for photos from external sources), they apply to the many photo portals that provide free images. Openverse is just a search engine that was and is being developed with a lot of work and enthusiasm to allow the discovery of free works with free licenses.

In your own interest, you should always read and follow the terms of use and licenses of photo portals. Checking whether photo uploaders are required to verify their personal details when registering, or whether it is easy to create a fake account, is valuable information to assess the risk of any personal liability that may arise.