NY Library Gives Internet Free Rein Over 180K Items

'No permission required, no hoops to jump through'
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 6, 2016 6:28 PM CST
NY Library Gives Internet Free Rein Over 180K Items
"Waterfront, South Street, Manhattan" by Berenice Abbott. The 1935 photograph is just one of more than 180,000 items released into the public domain this week by the New York Public Library.   (New York Public Library)

"Menus for long-ago eaten banquets, postcards featuring buildings that no longer exist, gorgeous maps and engravings, yellowed photographs, elegant sheet music." Those are just a few of the Atlantic's favorite things contained inside a massive release of materials into the public domain courtesy of the New York Public Library. The library announced Tuesday it was making more than 180,000 photographs, manuscripts, and more available to the public with "no permission required, no hoops to jump through," and no fees. According to Art News, anyone is now free to download any of the items to use as they wish. The release is "intended to facilitate sharing, research, and reuse by scholars, artists, educators, technologists, publishers, and Internet users of all kinds," the library states.

The copyrights on all the materials have expired, making their release to the public possible, Art News reports. "The public domain release spans the breadth and depth of NYPL's holdings," the library states. In addition to the massive release, the library also took major steps to make the thousands upon thousands of items easier to find and sort through for the public, a feat that is stymying many other public institutions. “The tricky thing about library data and this particular data set is that it was collected over decades and well before databases as we know them today existed,” the library's Brian Foo tells the Atlantic. “The result is inconsistent data coming from a variety of sources in different formats.” (Meanwhile, a Swiss foundation just made a bold move to keep The Diary of Anne Frank out of the public domain.)

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