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This article was published on January 30, 2020

You can now download 150,000 copyright-free art works from Paris’ museums

Meme recklessly

You can now download 150,000 copyright-free art works from Paris’ museums

The internet just got over 150,000 high-definition images of historic art to turn into memes — without any fear of breaking copyright laws. Well, sort of.

As part of its Open Content initiative, Paris Musées — a consortium of 14 Parisian museums — revealed it’s making 150,000 digital reproductions of art works from its collection available for use entirely free of charge. The images include pieces from legendary names like Rembrandt and Van Dyck, as well as many others.

The launch of Open Content will mark a new stage in Paris Musées’ digitisation [sic] policy,” the institution said. “It will contribute to enhancing and improving the way our collections are made available and will strengthen the measures taken to ensure better public access to art and culture as well as increasing visibility and understanding of the works in our municipal collections.”

[Read: The EU’s disastrous Copyright Reform, explained by its lovers and haters]

“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 read further. “Digital files that contain works that belong in the public sphere under a CCØ (Creative Commons Zero) licence will be made available to everyone via the Paris Musées’ Collections portal.”

What’s particularly useful is that you can filter the Open Content collection by author, genre, date, and even color. Pretty cool.

For now, Paris Musées is only uploading high-definition reproductions of 2D works that aren’t restricted by copyright laws. Images of works still bound by licenses will also be uploaded on the website, but in lower resolution.

The institution also plans to host a series of virtual exhibitions in an effort to bring more attention to Open Content and encourage visitors to download the images.

The collection won’t come in handy only to memesters, though. Paris Musées hopes the initiative will make it easier for teachers and students to conduct research.

In the meantime, you can browse Open Content by clicking here.

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