The Getty Launches ‘Open Content’ Program, Lifting Restrictions on Use of Digital Images

Among the most well-known images in the history of photography is “The Open Door” (pictured), in which William Henry Fox Talbot used his pioneering calotype process to preserve forever the scene of a broom leaning at a jaunty angle on the threshold of Lacock Abbey. Talbot’s 1844 tableau is among the approximately 4,600 high-resolution digital images from the J. Paul Getty Museum that are now free use, modify, and publish for any purpose thanks to an open door policy announced today by The Getty.

“As of today, the Getty makes available, without charge, all available digital images to which the Getty holds all the rights or that are in the public domain to be used for any purpose,” said Getty president and CEO Jim Cuno in a statement announcing the Open Content program, which aligns the institution with similar programs at the Walters Art Museum, the National Gallery of Art, Yale University, the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, and Harvard University. Images were previously available upon request, for a fee, and permissions were granted for specific uses only.

“The Getty was founded on the conviction that understanding art makes the world a better place, and sharing our digital resources is the natural extension of that belief,” noted Cuno. “This move is also an educational imperative. Artists, students, teachers, writers, and countless others rely on artwork images to learn, tell stories, exchange ideas, and feed their own creativity.” Next up: images from the Getty Research Institute and the Getty Conservation Institute, both of which are now determining which images can be made available under the new program.