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Getty Releases 4,600 Images into the Public Domain

August 14, 2013 in News, Open GLAM, Public Domain

A depiction of a banquet by 17th Centruy Italian artist, Morazzone, one of the many scans now in the public domain
A depiction of a banquet by 17th Centruy Italian artist, Morazzone, one of the many scans now in the public domain

Cross-posted from the OpenGLAM Blog.

Yesterday the J. Paul Getty Trust launched its Open Content Program which saw the release of 4,600 high-resolution scans of works from the Getty Museum in Los Angeles into the public domain. This means that the digital images in this new release can be downloaded and re-used without restriction and without the need to get permission. The initial release can be browsed here.

The renowned institution has publicly committed to open up the digital images of all works they own and that are in the public domain or to which they own the rights. Getty president and CEO, Jim Cuno, said of the Open Content Program and the Getty’s commitment to openness:

>The Getty was founded to promote ‘the diffusion of artistic and general knowledge’ of the visual arts, and this new program arises directly from that mission. In a world where, increasingly, the trend is toward freer access to more and more information and resources, it only makes sense to reduce barriers to the public to fully experience our collections.

The Getty joins a growing cohort of leading cultural institutions taking steps to open up their public domain holdings on the web. Recent years have seen similar releases from the Walter’s Art Museum, The British Library and the Rijksmuseum. OpenGLAM — the Working Group at the Open Knowledge Foundation dedicated to opening up cultural content and data from Galleries, Libraries, Archives and Museums around the world — is collecting examples of open collections on the site. If you know of ones we haven’t listed, get in touch via the public mailing list.

We were pleased to see representatives from the Getty at the launch of the US arm of the OpenGLAM Working Group back in March of this year and we hope that the experience of coming together with other institutions keen to see more of their colelctions shared online helped to bolster their support for open content.

On their website the Getty have also signalled that this is the first in a series of open content releases under their Open Content Program. Plans are in the works to release documentation from the Getty’s Conservation Institute’s field projects as well as their world famous vocabularies for describing cultural objects.

It’s fantastic to see an organisation of the Getty’s size and stature making such a move. We hope this will motivate other organisations to take such a bold and positive step towards an open cultural commons which everyone is free to enjoy and re-use. We would also urge the Getty to go further in their Open Content Program and actually start labelling the digital copies of their works available through their website with a Creative Commons Public Domain Mark to further reduced the barriers to re-use.

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