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Getty Museum releases 88K+ images of artworks with CC0

Open Heritage
Close up of vivid orange flowers and blue irises growing above red-ochre soil.
Irises, 1889” by Vincent van Gogh, The J. Paul Getty Museum is dedicated to the public domain by CC0.

The J. Paul Getty Museum just released more than 88 thousand works under Creative Commons Zero (CCØ), putting the digital images of items from its impressive collection squarely and unequivocally into the public domain. 

This is in line with our advocacy efforts at Creative Commons (CC): digital reproductions of public domain material must remain in the public domain. In other words, no new copyright should arise over the creation of a digitized “twin.”

According to the museum’s press release, “users can download, edit, and repurpose high resolution images of their favorite Getty artworks without any legal restrictions.” The museum’s Open Content database is a wellspring of art that is bound to inspire myriad new creative reuses. It includes Dutch artist Vincent Van Gogh’s Irises and many more treasures waiting to be explored. Since opening up, Getty has seen “an uptick in image downloads on our site, averaging about 30,000 per month.”

This announcement is a huge cause for celebration for CC’s Open Culture efforts, which strive to promote open access and better sharing of cultural heritage held in cultural heritage institutions, such as museums, libraries and archives. It is also a testament to the stewardship of our open, public-interest infrastructure of Creative Commons licenses and tools. These are free, easy-to-use, and standardized open legal tools that enable worldwide open access to creative content.

We salute the Getty for supporting a thriving public domain and encourage other institutions to engage more deeply in the open culture movement and make the world’s vast collections of public domain materials openly accessible to everyone. We recently released guidelines promoting CCØ and the Public Domain Mark alongside best-practice norms incentivizing users to refer back to institutions. 

Get Involved

For additional guidance on using CCØ to release cultural heritage materials and tailored support in developing or implementing open access policies or to get involved in promoting open culture around the world:

Posted 13 March 2024