National Archives sign at Kew Gardens Station

National Archives sign at Kew Gardens Station


The Getty opens its public domain art to all

The Getty launched its Open Content Program on August 12, 02013 to make digital versions of its public domain artwork available to all. They went above and beyond, as have some other cultural organizations, by providing "high-resolution, reproduction-quality images with embedded metadata, some over 100 megabytes in size."

I applaud The Getty's decision and hope that many more cultural institutions will follow their example. In British Columbia, the City of Vancouver Archives has a comparable policy to the Getty. I would love to see my former employer, the Royal British Columbia Museum, step onto the open access/open content stage. Perhaps this will happen once the BC Archives, which has been part of the RBCM for a decade, converts its database systems for public access via the new content management system, work on which has been underway for at least five years. Amazingly, the existing BC Archives search system is nearly 20 years old, possibly a world record when it comes to public access Web-based databases.

I've always felt it was wrong for cultural institutions to charge money for the use or licensing of public domain content they were preserving since most if not all these organizations also held full rights to other content or could find other ways to generate revenue.

 For some further information about The Getty's decision, see President and CEO of the J. Paul Getty Trust Jame Cuno's article "Open Content, An Idea Whose Time Has Come" in The Getty Iris.

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