The Metropolitan Museum of Art has dramatically expanded its commitment to Open Access. On Facebook Live this morning, Director and CEO Thomas P. Campbell announced that the Met would make 375,000 images of public domain artworks in its collection freely available for unrestricted use through its new Open Access Policy. This effectively supplants the Met’s earlier Open Access for Scholarly Content (OASC) and Images for Academic Publishing (IAP) programs, which limited their scope to academic and non-commercial uses. The Met’s images may now be used freely for any purposes, including commercial ones. As always in questions of copyright, this policy applies only to images of artworks which are themselves in the public domain, so most modern and contemporary art is excluded.
Images that are covered by the Open Access Policy are marked on the Met’s website with a Creative Commons Zero (CC0) symbol, meaning that the Museum has waived copyright and dedicated these images to the public domain. Artstor, the Wikimedia Foundation, and Creative Commons–all of which partnered with the Met on this initiative–will also be making these images available on their own sites.
With this new policy, the Met becomes only the second American institution (after the Walters Art Museum) to adopt the generous CC0 designation for its images. It is by far the largest art museum yet to have embraced such a sweeping vision of open access.