In times when digital copyright is a matter not to be taken lightly, the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam takes a different stance when it comes to digital copies of the works of art housed in its wings. The museum offers high-resolution images of its art to the public for free.
Rijksmuseum’s collection includes work by van Gogh and Rembrandt but the museum has no qualms about making high-resolution images of 125,000 of its works available online through its interactive site, Rijksstudio. Through Rijksstudio, anyone can browse through the available images and transform masterpieces into items like t-shirts, pillowcases, iPhone decals, and other things.
Most museums post images of their collections online, but view them more as online catalogs rather than venues for downloads. Most museums are strict about giving high-resolution versions to the public and will only provide high quality copies upon request and with specific restrictions. Some museums only post low-resolution images to discourage people from using them. These restrictions are not without reason, of course, as there are many ways that good quality images of valuable art work can be used for less than honorable purposes.
In an article on The New York Times, Taco Dibbits, director of collections at Rijksmuseum, remarked that since it’s difficult to control copyright and image use on the internet, they would rather have people use high-resolution images of their art instead of bad copies.
Although the images on Rijksstudio are free for download, the museum asks users to refrain from using the images for commercial purposes and instead sells higher quality versions that are more suitable for such.