The J. Paul Getty Trust has announced that they are “making roughly 4,600 high-resolution images of the Museum’s collection free to use, modify, and publish for any purpose.” The post was written by Getty President and CEO James Cuno and published on The Getty Iris, the institution’s blog,
Cuno wrote, "We’ve launched the Open Content Program to share, freely and without restriction, as many of the Getty’s digital resources as possible."
"The initial focus of the Open Content Program is to make available all images of public domain artworks in the Getty’s collections. Today we’ve taken a first step toward this goal by making roughly 4,600 high-resolution images of the Museum’s collection free to use, modify, and publish for any purpose."
“We always made our collection, such as they were, available for academic purposes or for publication for free. It was only commercial use that was restricted,” Cuno says.
The decision will allow free downloads of 4,600 high-resolution images from the museum’s collection, including such major works as Monet's "Sunrise" and "Wheat stacks," Van Gogn's "Iris," Rembrandt’s “The Abduction of Europa” (1632), and drawings by Leonardo da Vinci.
The downloads are for both for commercial and non-commercial use. The only requirement for downloaders is that they let the Getty know what the image will be used for and the stipulation that they include the citation for the image. All the images are currently from the museum but, Cuno says, they expect to tap the other collections, such as the conservation and research collections, for similar treatment.
Cuno explains that the decision seemed easy when they considered that the issue of providing the content for free to the public was at the “dead center at the vision of fusion of artistic and general knowledge,” which is the focus of the Getty Trust’s vision.
The Getty, Cuno says, will work to place its entire collection online but there are certainly challenges to photographing of the entire collection. One major challenge will be photographing the thousands of pottery shards in the Getty Villa collection, and navigating the minefield of copyright laws. This may be particularly difficult for their their 72,799 object photography collection.
When asked what the financial cost for such an ambitious endeavor would be, Cuno replied, “We didn’t want cost to influence this decision.”
J. P. Getty founded the Getty Trust in 1953 and left it $661 million upon his death. In 2012, the Getty Trust was worth 2.7 billion and is the world's wealthiest art institution.
Open Content FAQ: http://www.getty.edu/about/opencontentfaq.html
Download links to the Getty Museum's Collection pages: http://www.getty.edu/research/special_collections/