Met joins the Getty in opening their digital archives for free downloads

Finally! A step in the right direction

Museums, artists’ estates, along with all kinds of societies are in the business of charging ridiculously high fees for the right to use a photograph of their artist’s artworks on the web. So, say you decide to dish out $500 – $5,000 for one image because you simply must use it in your catalogue or a book, only to find out that your use of the image is time constrained: you can use it for three months or a year. That means that after the image had been used for the agreed-upon length of time, you have to either renew the agreement, pay another astronomical fee, or remove the image. So here is where we stand on that. For services that monetize on the reproduction, i.e. sell copies of it, print it as posters, T-shirts, mugs – it makes sense. For non-commercial projects like articles, blogs, educational resources and editorials – it doesn’t.

See Manet’s The Luncheon on the Grass on ArtEx

So what makes Edouard Manet‘s portrait of The Spanish Singer, 1860 special is that it’s free! Yes, absolutely free to use! The Met museum posted this on their website:

Met museum, public domain notice

To assist in navigating the vast image content on this website, the Museum has implemented Open Access for Scholarly Content (OASC). Through OASC, artworks in the Collection section of the website which the Museum believes to be in the public domain and free of other known restrictions have been identified by an icon; images associated with these artworks can be downloaded for license- and cost-free scholarly and academic publication […]

Public Domain means – free to use

This is fantastic news for anyone who needs access to hi-quality photographs of the famous masterpieces currently in the collections of  major museums. The New York City museum followed in the footsteps of the Getty that began making their archives open to the public through their Getty’s Open Content Program. Some 10,000 images from the Getty and almost 400,000 from The Met’s collection, whose artist’s copyrights have expired are part of this initiative. And yes, public domain means you can use images of these masterpieces for free.

“The web is such that people will get the images and do with them what they wish, and it’s impractical to police the Internet,” Getty President and CEO James Cuno said. “So we wanted to recognize that and be certain that we had the best quality images available and with the most accurate information attached to them.”

And so it looks like the art institutions are finally catching up with the whole concept of the internet and acknowledging that making these images available to the public will actually help them rather than hurt them in the long run.

Some of the other masterpieces now available for free hi-res download are

Vincent van Gogh’s 1889 oil on canvas Wheat Field with Cypresses

Gustave Courbet’s Jo, La Belle Irlandaise, 1865

Edgar Degas, The Dance Class, 1874

Paul Cezanne’s The Card Players, 1890

All images courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.

This article © galleryintell