Public Domain Book Illustrations in Flickr

A new collection in Flickr assembles millions of images from copyright-free (pre-1923) books that had previously been digitized and placed online. The story of the technology behind this project is maybe even more interesting than the images themselves, as you can read about here.

You can also explore the Internet Archive Book Images photostream in Flickr.

Images from the Museum of New Zealand

John Gully, Milford Sound, 1883, watercolor, Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, Wellington

John Gully, Milford Sound, 1883, watercolor, Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, Wellington

The Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa in Wellington has made over 30,000 images of works from its collection available for free download. Over 14,000 of these are released under a Creative Commons CC BY-NC-ND license that requires attribution and prohibits any commercial use or the making of derivatives. The remaining 17,000 images have no known copyright restrictions, and are available for any use.

Te Papa is New Zealand’s national museum, and its collections include art as well as history, natural history, and Maori and Pacific cultures. You can read more about this image initiative on Te Papa’s blog, or begin exploring the Collections Online.

Open Access Images from the Met

Edo culture (Court of Benin, Nigeria), Queen Mother Pendant Mask: Iyoba, 16th century, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Edo culture (Court of Benin, Nigeria), Queen Mother Pendant Mask: Iyoba, 16th century, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

The Metropolitan Museum of Art has made more than 400,000 images of public domain works in its collection available for non-commercial use through its new Open Access for Scholarly Content (OASC) initiative. You may now download images from its website and use them for scholarly purposes–including print and online publication–without having to request permission or pay a fee. The Museum is letting users decide if their own projects qualify as “scholarly” or “non-commercial”; you can find definitions and examples on the Met’s OASC FAQ page. You may also want to consult the fine print in the Terms and Conditions for the Met’s website. Commercial use of these images is not permitted.

This is not the first time the Metropolitan Museum of Art has made its images available for free. You have been able to download large images for personal use since its website was redesigned a few years ago, and its collection has been the cornerstone of Artstor’s Images for Academic Publishing (IAP) since that program’s creation. OASC gives users yet another avenue for accessing and using the Met’s images.

Getty Images for Free

Getty Images logoAfter years of filing lawsuits against those who used their photographs without permission, Getty Images (not to be confused with the the Getty Trust and the J. Paul Getty Museum) has made millions of its stock photos free to anyone who wants to use them for noncommercial purposes.

The one big catch: you have to use their “embed” tool to insert their pictures into your site, which may make them too cumbersome to use. Also note that Getty Images is not making all of its images free–just the rather generic stock photos. So, for example, journalists will still have to pay for the more specific images of current events to illustrate their news stories.

You can read more about this important change from Getty Images in places like Bloomberg Businessweek and CNET.

LACMA’s New Collections Website

Iranian (Safavid), Ardabil Carpet (detail), 1539-1540, Los Angeles County Museum of Art

Iranian (Safavid), Ardabil Carpet (detail), 1539-1540 (Photo © Los Angeles County Museum of Art,

Two years ago, I reported that the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) had launched its Image Library, which allowed users to download images of works from its collection for any purpose. Now LACMA is expanding this service through its new collections website, which vastly increases the number of images available for download from 2,000 to 20,000. And like before, the Museum places no restrictions on your use of these images, so you are free to do whatever you want with them.

Copyright Lecture by Kenneth Crews

On Wednesday, March 6, there will be a lecture on “Copyright and the Digital Humanities” by Kenneth Crews, director of the Copyright Advisory Office at Columbia University. This event will take place at 5:00 pm in the Morris Library Reading Room. I have seen Dr. Crews speak in the past, and he actually makes copyright law entertaining!

You can read more about this upcoming talk in UDaily.

Images from the National Portrait Gallery, London

Attributed to John Taylor, William Shakespeare, ca. 1610, National Portrait Gallery, London

Attributed to John Taylor, William Shakespeare, ca. 1610, (Photo © National Portrait Gallery, London)

The National Portrait Gallery in London joins the growing list of museums making images of the works in their collections available for academic use without charge. But please note that these terms–at least for the largest images they provide–are more restrictive than those in some recent releases (such as the LACMA Image Library or NGA Images). While there is no fee for academic or non-commercial use of their images, you must still apply to the Gallery for permission to use them. Commercial use of their images still requires both a fee and permission.

You can read the full press release below:



The National Portrait Gallery now provides free downloads of a large range of images from its Collection for academic and non-commercial projects through a new web-site facility. Over 53,000 low-resolution images will now be available free of charge to non-commercial users through a standard ‘Creative Commons’ licence and over 87,000 high-resolution images will also be available free of charge for academic use through the Gallery’s own licences.

Since 1997 over 100,000 portraits from the Gallery’s Collection, including paintings, photographs, drawings, prints and sculptures have been digitised. The Gallery was among the first UK institutions to publish images online in a searchable database, and licensing of these images has raised some £5.5 million which has been re-invested in the Gallery’s work. Digitisation of the Collection is part of realising the Gallery’s mission ‘to promote through the medium of portraits the appreciation and understanding of the men and women who have made and are making British history and culture, and … to promote the appreciation and understanding of portraiture in all media’.

The new licensing process has been automated through the Gallery’s website but each transaction is individually agreed or denied by Gallery staff, to prevent potential abuse of the system and preserve the important revenue achieved from commercial image licensing. In order to help cover the cost and to highlight the value for beneficiaries of this new facility, users are invited to donate in support of the Gallery’s work. Not all of the portraits in the Collections have yet been scanned, and some are subject to copyright restrictions, so charges and restrictions will continue to apply to accessing some images, as well as to the commercial use of all images. Funds raised by image licensing activity will continue to contribute towards further digitisation.

National Portrait Gallery, St Martin’s Place, WC2H 0HE opening hours: Saturday-Wednesday: 10am – 6pm (Gallery closure commences at 5.50pm) Late Opening: Thursday, Fridays:10am – 9pm (Gallery closure commences at 8.50pm) Recorded information: 020 7312 2463 General information: 020 7306 0055 Website:

NGA Images

Johannes Vermeer, Girl with the Red Hat, Dutch, 1632 - 1675, c. 1665/1666, oil on panel, Andrew W. Mellon Collection

Johannes Vermeer, Girl with the Red Hat, ca. 1665-1666 (photo: Courtesy National Gallery of Art, Washington)

BIG NEWS! The National Gallery of Art in Washington has just launched the NGA Images website. There you can download any of their images of works in the public domain (which means almost all of their pre-1900 art). You can read the full press release here.

The images that you can download are 1200 pixels on their long dimension, which is perfect for use in Powerpoint or OIV (see an example here). In addition, if you register on the site, you also get access to 2000-pixel and 3000-pixel images, which are suitable for scholarly publications. And it’s all free of charge!

But what makes this site truly remarkable is that you’re also free to use any of the images you download for any purpose you want, without even having to seek the museum’s permission. It’s all part of the National Gallery of Art’s Open Access policy. This follows the recent news that Yale University and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art would similarly open their image collections for unrestricted public use. The stature of the National Gallery of Art’s collection makes this an even bigger announcement . . . and another important milestone on the road towards greater public access to online image collections.