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29.01.2020 Europe

Paris offers up its artistic masterpieces for digital download – and they’re free

By David Roe - RFI
Paris Musée Open Content
LISTEN JAN 29, 2020
Paris Musée Open Content

If you are unable to visit Paris for whatever reason, but would like to visit its art museums, Paris Musées has put over 100,000 digital reproductions of some of the world's greatest art masterpieces online in high quality digital reproductions.

The images, which are available as of this month as Open Content, marks a new milestone in Paris Musée's ongoing strategy to make public access to art and culture easier than it has been to date.

Paris Musée Open Content
A statement from It Paris Musée says the move will improve access and visibility of works in the public collections available in the public museums of Paris.

Paris Musées is a public establishment, which manages the buildings and collections of the fourteen museums in the city of Paris.

“Making this data available guarantees that our digital files can be freely accessed and reused by anyone or everyone, without any technical, legal or financial restraints, whether for commercial use or not,” the statement reads.

This means that digital files that contain works that belong in the public sphere under a CCØ (Creative Commons Zero) license.

CC0 enables scientists, educators, artists and other creators and owners of copyright- or database-protected content to waive those interests in their works and thereby place them as completely as possible in the public domain, so that others may freely build upon, enhance and reuse the works for any purposes without restriction under copyright or database law.

Gradual release
At first only reproductions of works in 2D that are not copyright restricted will be available as Open Content, those works that are still in copyright will be in low definition in order to illustrate, on the Internet site, what is available in the collections.

Art lovers will now be able to download works by the great names in photography (Atget, Blancard, Marville, and Carjat) or in painting (Courbet, Delacroix, Rembrandt, and Van Dyck).

The policy of free access is part of a programme of development, cultural mediation and the opening up of the collections to Internet users.

Each user that asks for an image will receive a file that contains an image in HD (300 dpi – 3000 pixels), a document with information about the work and a copy of the Good Practice Charter for images available under CCØ license which will ask a user to cite the source and offer information about the work.

A French first
Although this license is already used by international museums such as the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York,

Paris Musées will be the first French institution to take part and make available a considerable number of reproductions.

The images will be available for the, enabling users to download the images

They will also be able to use an API (Application Programming Interface) to access the apps.

To showcase the reproductions of the works concerned, Paris Musées will create targeted virtual exhibitions which will bring users a maximum of information while encouraging them to download and reuse the images.

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