Smithsonian Releases 2.8 Million Images And 3D Models Into The Public Domain
Here’s some good news for a change. The Smithsonian has just announced Smithsonian Open Access, in which it has released 2.8 million high quality digital images and 3D models into the public domain under a CC0 public domain dedication.
With Smithsonian Open Access, we’re increasing the public’s ability to use millions of digital assets—2D and 3D images and data. Open Access items carry what’s called a CC0 designation. This means the Smithsonian dedicates the digital asset into the public domain, meaning it is free of copyright restrictions and you can use it for any purpose, free of charge, without further permission from the Smithsonian. As new images are digitized, if they are determined to be copyright-free, the Smithsonian will dedicate them as CC0 ongoing.
It appears the plan is to keep adding to the database. The FAQ suggests that it won’t just be images and 3D models, but also songs and data sets and much more. And they make it clear that anyone can and should make use of it, without needing to get any permission — even for commercial use (for some reason, some people still think public domain works can’t be used commercially, but that’s just wrong).
Since the Smithsonian’s founding in 1846, its mission has been clear: “the increase and diffusion of knowledge.” We want to empower people everywhere to participate in that mission with us in new and innovative ways for the 21st century.
Smithsonian Open Access invites you to discover a world where you can learn, research, explore, and create in ways you couldn’t before. By making our trusted collections easier to access and use, we hope to inspire people to build new knowledge to understand our world—past and present.
Another cool part of the project is that they’re asking volunteers to help transcribe various scans of books and documents as well to help make everything even more searchable.
There are a growing number of sources of public domain material out there, but having the Smithsonian join in with such a huge chunk of content is a really great sign. The bigger the public domain, the better, but for it to work to spur new creativity, it also needs to be easily accessible, and the Smithsonian is helping out with that in a big, big way.
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February 25, 2020 at 10:58PM