Last month, The New York Public Library released over 180,000 high resolution images for download that we believe are “public domain,” by which we mean free of known U.S. copyright restrictions. The phrase “public domain” refers to things for which copyright has expired or does not apply. When an item is in the public domain, no permission from a copyright holder is necessary for someone to use or reuse that item. In recent weeks, we have received a number of requests for more information on the work that went into the release. I am proud to share with our users the work of the Copyright and Information Policy team (also known as the Rights team) did for this release and continues to do to expand access to our collections.
This release is a continuation of NYPL’s mission to advance knowledge. This commitment to providing free and open access to our collection is a core value at NYPL. In 2013, we published and implemented our policy on open bibliographic metadata, making a significant number of records available without restriction. In 2014, we released more than 20,000 cartographic works as high resolution downloads. By growing the number of high resolution images available for download, we are able to continue to serve a vital role in the intellectual fabric of American life.