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Education Technology

NYPL Digital Gallery Open to Public 158

mountiealpha writes "The New York Public Library has digitized over 275,000 images from their colletions, and made them freely available available online. The 'NYPL Digital Gallery provides access to over 275,000 images digitized from primary sources and printed rarities in the collections of The New York Public Library, including illuminated manuscripts, historical maps, vintage posters, rare prints and photographs, illustrated books, printed ephemera, and more.'" Update: 03/04 17:30 GMT by Z : They're updating the site to handle high traffic volumes, but there is an informational page available with details on the site.
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NYPL Digital Gallery Open to Public

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  • It's down (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Due to high traffic, etc etc and so forth

    Did anyone get a chance to mirror that puppy before it was slashdotted into oblivion?
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Oh yeah, got everything backed up right here. I'll e-mail you the terabyte zip if you want. Or just wait till I post it to usenet in 30K chunks.
    • " Due to high traffic, etc etc and so forth"

      A very professional 404. Much better than the standard one which causes noobs to question if "the internet is down"
    • They (and really everyone who slashdots)should check out Coral [coralcdn.org], I think it is just too cool for words. It would really beat the low bandwidth blues. Either that or turn those poor NYU servers into Egg Fryers.
    • Actually, the site was experiencing difficulties with high traffic before it got mentioned here (possibly due to its mention on the NY Times site yesterday?)
  • You go smoosh now!

    "Due to the overwhelming interest in the new Digital Gallery we are currently experiencing extremely high traffic. In order to address this demand we are temporarily taking the site down to increase capacity. We are working to bring the site back up as soon as possible and appreciate your patience. Please check back soon. (For information on the Digital Gallery, please visit http://www.nypl.org/press/digitalgallery.cfm)"
  • What License? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DataPath ( 1111 ) on Friday March 04, 2005 @12:37PM (#11845493)
    Are they still under copyright? What license are these published under?
    • Re:What License? (Score:5, Informative)

      by tmasssey ( 546878 ) on Friday March 04, 2005 @12:48PM (#11845616) Homepage Journal
      From a look over the summary info, it seems that these are all works for which their copyright has expired (e.g.: public domain). No license is needed.

      • This is partially wrong. The faq states that though most of the images are public domain a license is needed for commercial use. In order to make commercial use you need to pay a fee and get a license.

        I personally think its disgusting when people place additional restrictions on public domain material. That a library supported by public money does that is hard to comprehend.
    • We are in a pretty pathetic state in society if a freaking LIBRARY can't give access to information.

      I dare say they just provide them public domain if they are over 50 years old. Then we can see who the heartless smucks would sue them.
      • They are giving access. Who do you think should fund the access, if not the people that are using it?

        The library has nothing to do with whether the pictures are in the public domain or not.

        A work being in the public domain doesn't mean that no one will charge you for access to it. It (more-or-less) means that ANYONE can charge for access to it. (See if your local bookstore is giving away free copies of _A Tale of Two Cities_.)

        If you think that you can provide the service more cheaply try it. You may
    • From reading the descripyion I would say: none. Scanning and uploading isn't a creative addition to the work, and from what I've read all the 'artists' have been dead long enough for ot to become public domain.
    • Re:What License? (Score:4, Informative)

      by Kurt Gray ( 935 ) on Friday March 04, 2005 @01:57PM (#11846312) Homepage Journal
      It is possible the the library owns these copies of each image and you would need their permission to republish their copies of each image unless they clearly state otherwise.

      I've recently dealt with getting digital copies of 1870's historical photographs from various sources including libraries, city archives, historical societies, private collectors, etc. Even though the images are very old, way beyond even a Disney copyright, but in each case each archive owns their copy of the image so you can only use a copy of their copy under their terms and conditions.
      • It is possible the the library owns these copies of each image

        It is possible, but not very likely.

        Copyright protection extends to CREATIVE works only. An exact reproduction of an image is not protected by the copyright because no creativity is employed.

        in each case each archive owns their copy of the image so you can only use a copy of their copy under their terms and conditions

        Umm... two comments. First, the archive "owns" their copy of the image in the meaning that they are free to give it to you
        • Good points, I should be more specific. AFAIK photographs created before 1922 are all public domain. So historic photo archives tend to publish copies of images from their collection with watermarks. If you want access to their original (ie. the unwatermarked version) then you have to sign their contract.
      • It is possible the the library owns these copies of each image and you would need their permission to republish their copies of each image unless they clearly state otherwise.

        Nope; copies of images in the public domain have no new copyright, so barring other factors, you don't need their permission.

        in each case each archive owns their copy of the image so you can only use a copy of their copy under their terms and conditions.

        They own the physical copy; they have no rights over copies of that copy, unl
    • Re:What License? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by d34thm0nk3y ( 653414 ) on Friday March 04, 2005 @01:58PM (#11846339)
      Considering an illuminated manustcript is a medieval manuscript with gold leaf highlights, usually used in religous texts, I would hope the copyrights would have expired by now.
    • The faq says that most of the images are in the public domain. Despite this apparently the NYPL says that only personal use is allowed and that a payment for a license must be obtained to make other uses.

      I think its disgusting when people put additional restrictions on public domain material, especially when its a publicly funded library.
  • Library piracy? (Score:5, Informative)

    by dmf415 ( 218827 ) * on Friday March 04, 2005 @12:37PM (#11845499)
    Seems that Libraries have to follow certain guidlines in order to make these electronic reproductions.

    Copyright Issues for Libraries When Digitizing Materials for the Web
    When digitizing documents or other objects to be made available on the World Wide Web, a library first needs to determine whether the item is protected by copyright or whether it is in the public domain. If the material is protected by copyright, the library will need to obtain permission from the copyright owner before making the digitized copy available through the World Wide Web. If the item is in the public domain, the library does not need permission to digitize it and make it available.

    more here:
    http://www.mlcnet.org/services/copydigitize .php
    • Re:Library piracy? (Score:3, Informative)

      by metlin ( 258108 )
      Yeah, usually libraries have different ways of handling IP. Even state sponsored libraries have differences in the way they handle such material.

      For instance, Georgia Tech's library is federally funded, but they do not allow everyone to access the digital copies of things such as journals and the like - only students, researchers & faculty.

      This, despite the fact that the material can only be accessed from within the campus (or from outside if you have a GTech id, but then if you do have one you're par
      • In Virginia, the libraries of the state universities allow public access to all on line publications and journals to which they subscribe. However, you have to go down to the library, you can't access online.

        It's sometimes a pleasant break from being in the office, and the nearest university is only 20 minutes from here.

        • Which is a good thing, in many ways.

          Actually, when I was at a certain famous national lab, you'd be automatically granted access to most journals the moment you even visit certain websites.

          For example, you visit Phy. Rev. or Annalen der Physik and you'd notice that you do not even need to login, the website grants you complete access automatically. Which is kinda cool if you ask me =)
      • The main reason that universities limit the access to the online databases is money. They license those databases from companies and if one university let anyone access them online, then what motivation would other universities have to pay the licencing fees?
        Here at IU to access them from off campus you have to use vpn to get into the databases
        • I agree.

          The journals are usually paid for - and granting free access to them online would mean that they are distributing those journals - which the journals may not appreciate.
    • Teeny Tiny pics (Score:2, Insightful)

      by rochlin ( 248444 )
      I wouldn't bother waiting for the server to clear. These are tiny pics (420x?). And so far as I can tell, on a limited variety of topics. You will have more fun google image searching, with far more entertaining results. This seems like a token or mininformed effort. Mostly useful for high school students?
    • According to the summary of information, the vast majority of the infomration, if not all, is before 1935, the typical cutoff date for the expiration of copyright.

      Until they extend it again, anyway.

      In other words, it would be covered by that last sentence: "the library does not need permission to digitize it".

  • by Anonymous Coward
    "High-resolution images are available for licensing for personal use and for professional reproduction through Photographic Services & Permissions."

    Is this fair? I don't get why publically-funded institutions can charge for their services like this. It's like how NPR charges you for transcripts, but dumps them into Google News for searching. Quite annoying.

    Libraries should be free.


    • It's already common practice for libraries to charge for renting DVDs, ordering books etc. so I wouldn't say it comes as a surprise that they charge for these pictures in high-res.
    • by Silver Sloth ( 770927 ) on Friday March 04, 2005 @12:45PM (#11845576)
      Libraries are free - as in speach. You want free as in beer.
      • Libraries are free - as in speach

        There are a number of free spell checkers out there that are free as in beer :)
      • You want free as in beer.

        You're goddamn right we do!
      • AC wrote:

        "High-resolution images are available for licensing for personal use and for professional reproduction through Photographic Services & Permissions."

        Silver Sloth replied:

        Libraries are free - as in speach. You want free as in beer.

        Wrong. These images are not "free as in speach" [sic]. By the act of electronically duplicating images already in the public domain, the New York Public Library has re-established copyright on those images.

        While the Silver Sloth raises an important

        • So Public libraries have a backdoor way to extend copyrights. Electronically duplicate the original image, on which the copyright has expired, then copyright the electronic duplicate.

          No, you can't get a copyright for a mere scan, because making a scan is not a creative act. I believe they hope to use contract law somehow: by downloading a copy from their site, you implicitly agree to a contract saying that in return for the image you promise not to distribute it any further and not to use it for commerci

    • by mogrify ( 828588 ) on Friday March 04, 2005 @12:45PM (#11845580) Homepage
      That would be fine if the institutions were 100% publicly funded, but they're not. They have to make up the difference somehow - public radio and television stations have to conduct fund drives and court corporate sponsors and charitable foundations. Their information doesn't belong solely to the public. Selling additional products and services over and above the fundamental purpose of the institution allows them to increase the quality of their services and provide a few extras.

      I don't know whether NYPL is 100% public or not, but it looks like they did get outside help in the form of grants for this project.
      • If the images are public domain, one person can pay for the high-res images and then upload them to WikiMedia so others can access them freely.

        Even with a fee, I'm glad the NYPL is doing this and hope that other libraries follow suit.
        • If the images are public domain, one person can pay for the high-res images and then upload them to WikiMedia so others can access them freely.

          You want everything free, even if it means the library can no longer cover expenses or raise some much needed cash through sale or rental of the images.
          Then you wonder why the collection has disappeared from the net or been licensed to Corbis, under terms that quarantee no one will be making a gift of high-res scans to a Wiki.

    • by QMO ( 836285 ) on Friday March 04, 2005 @12:50PM (#11845644) Homepage Journal
      Quote: "I don't get why publically-funded institutions can charge for their services like this. "

      Kind of like paying to pay to get into a tax-subsidized stadium to see a sports event.
      Kind of like paying tuition at public universities.
      Kind of like paying for a stamp when the USPS was a part of the government.
      Kind of like getting a tax assesment to fund the local library.
      Kind of like paying a sewer bill.
      Kind of like paying to use a public golf course.
      Kind of like paying to get into a national or state park.
      Kind of like paying your dues to the Lions, and donating extra for a certain project.
      Kind of like paying the parking meter at the national mall.
      Kind or like paying a toll on a public turnpike/bridge/tunnel.

      Quote: "Is this fair?"

      Response quote: "Life is pain, Highness. Anyone who says differently is selling something."

      These things may or not be fair, but public libraries charging for non-basic services shouldn't be a big surprise.
    • Those are hi-res images. The copyright holders might only have allowed them put low-res images on the web freely. Or maybe they're charging for the bandwith. Or one of the other million reasons. As a non-US citizen, I've seen USA as usually fair when it comes things like this - government istituions dealing with their copyrighted material. Well, at least fairer than some other countries, including mine (India).
    • by metlin ( 258108 ) on Friday March 04, 2005 @01:07PM (#11845796) Journal
      While the spirit of the argument is commendable, you should remember that the library probably *paid* someone to scan the pictures, someone to write the code and someone to implement the whole system. Probably a whole lot of someones, who need pay.

      Not to mention the fact that they would need money for the infrastructure, systems and running costs. Now where would they get the money for something like that from?

      Most libraries have just about enough money to keep the basic stuff running, let alone spend on something like this. So, unless they receive a fat grant for doing stuff like this, there isn't really much that they can do except charge for it.

      Now, fair use would grant you permission to see the low-res versions, but they have every right to charge you for the high-res particularly since they invested money in bringing it to you in the first place.

      While it may be unfortunate, I can see where they are coming from. Kinda inevitable, but on the bright side you atleast have something! :-)
    • You've got to pay for photocopies at the library. Why shouldn't you have to pay for a high-res image? It costs them bandwidth instead of toner and paper.
      • Paying for downloading a high-res image is fine (much like paying for a CD of GPLd software), but where do they get the authority to put subsequent usage restrictions on something clearly in the public domain?
  • I wonder about the copyright to these images. Of course the copyright has expired on some images, but probably not all.

    Is the reason that they can offer these images for download that painters and other picture artists don't have a extremist organization like RIAA or MPAA?

    • I would imagine they're using similar loopholes to google and their new books-online venture. I suspect something about their being nonprofit plays into their version of fair use.
    • Art is art and the beauty is intended for all to admire. Mass cash is only made when famous originals is auctioned by a museum and sold to a 'private collector' (or vice versa). Artists aren't nearly as rich as actors or musicians, but their work will keep their name on a plaque for decades.

      No-one 'private collector' is going to decide not to pay a million dollar sum for a Monet original because they can look at it online.

      Whereas music and movies are business, with labels trying to squeeze every drop of c
    • Re:Copyright (Score:2, Interesting)

      by tmasssey ( 546878 )
      No, it's likely that the copyright for the vast majority, if not all, of these items has expired. If you notice, most of them are pre-20th-century, and what *is* post-20th century (such as architectural diagrams) is covered by different types of copyright than that attached to artistic works.

      Having said that, some of the work may still be covered by copyright; however, if the copyright holder has given permission for their works to be reproduced, this would not be a problem. That's a possibility as wel

    • The original sources are most likely public domain, but the digital images that the library system made are copyrighted. They even have a licensing department that you can contact if you want to use the hi-resoloution images.
      • The original sources are most likely public domain, but the digital images that the library system made are copyrighted.

        No. Can't re-copyright a copy of a public domain image. See Bridgeman vs. Corel. [cornell.edu] "In this case, plaintiff by its own admission has labored to create "slavish copies" of public domain works of art. While it may be assumed that this required both skill and effort, there was no spark of originality -- indeed, the point of the exercise was to reproduce the underlying works with absolute fi

        • Cool, but then how does one of Bill Gates foundations own copyrights to so many digital representations of public domain works of art? Why do people have to pay to use photographs of items like the "Mona Lisa"? I have no idea what the quote that you used is actually saying since I haven't seen the ruling, but "spark of originality" is not a criterion of copyright. It probably has to do with the "slavish reproduction" meaning that there was no new content, therefore nothing to copyright. All they would n
          • It's not hard to find cites to Bridgeman vs. Corel. It's been commented on extensively. [panix.com]

            The Bridgeman decision is based on the famous Feist vs. Rural Telephone [findlaw.com] case. This Supreme Court decision that phone directories are not original enough to be copyrighted created the third-party phone book industry. When the Internet came along, the Feist decision permitted a whole range of directory-type services. As the Court put it, "The originality requirement is constitutionally mandated for all works.", and "No

    • The answer is "they probably don't have a right" and will be forced to take many down. Just because you don't know who owns the copyright to something doesn't mean it doesn't HAVE an owner, it just means you may as well throw it in the trash because you can't legally do anything. For example, if you have a picture of a statue, with no information of where the picture was taken, when, by who, or who owns the copyright of the statue, can you do ANYTHING with that picture? Nope.
  • by millwall ( 622730 ) on Friday March 04, 2005 @12:39PM (#11845512)
    Thanks New York Public Library for putting these 275,000 pictures online!

    As a re-opening present for this nice gesture, we will... slashdot you!
  • Z: They're updating the site to handle high traffic volumes

    So they went to all the trouble of scanning 275,000 works while expecting low traffic volumes?
  • Interesting (Score:4, Interesting)

    by elid ( 672471 ) <`moc.liamg' `ta' `dopi.ile'> on Friday March 04, 2005 @12:43PM (#11845562)
    I wonder if Google image search has already indexed this (would help with the bandwidth problems).
    • No, it wouldn't. Google only caches the tiny thumbnail. If that does it for you, great, but if you actually want to see the *real* image, Google won't help you.

  • by lbmouse ( 473316 )
    made them freely available available online

    Maybe maybe they should charge a little soemthing.
    So that they can buy buy a new server.
  • Anyone have a mirror of this site? :)


  • I really like the one print that they managed to place below the no bandwidth message.


    You know...the Stormtrooper in a Snowstorm!
  • an obligatory coral or google cache joke about this?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 04, 2005 @12:51PM (#11845653)
    Why people still use "cold fusion" for image stuff is beyond me... are the images all blobs in a database? A shell script could pump out flat pages updated daily -- voila, no slashdot effect.

    I once worked on a *.cfm project where everything had to go through like 5 layers of abstraction before anything happened... and they claimed it was all in the name of uh, efficiency(!) (maybe billing the client efficiency)

    "Due to the overwhelming interest in the new Digital Gallery we are currently experiencing extremely high traffic. In order to address this demand we are temporarily taking the site down to increase capacity. We are working to bring the site back up as soon as possible and appreciate your patience. Please check back soon. (For information on the Digital Gallery, please visit http://www.nypl.org/press/digitalgallery.cfm)"
  • "...their colletions, and made them freely available available online."
    Perhaps it's too early in the morning to be double checking orthography?
  • did they add this http://www.redsoxconnection.com/pics/trophy.jpg [redsoxconnection.com] picture to the library yet???
  • by glomph ( 2644 ) on Friday March 04, 2005 @12:54PM (#11845687) Homepage Journal
    Like my favorites, the Lewis Hine photos of the Depression-Era construction of the Empire State Building. Anybody who says photography is not art should view them.
    http://www.nypl.org/research/chss/spe/art/photo/hi nex/empire/empire.html [nypl.org]
    Not slashdotted at the moment.
  • Torrent (Score:3, Insightful)

    by XFilesFMDS1013 ( 830724 ) on Friday March 04, 2005 @12:58PM (#11845725)
    Well, if they ever get back up, I guess someone can .torrent the pictures. I'm sure most of you here are used to downloading pictures, especially ones that are "digitized from primary sources and printed rarities".
  • Cause I didn't quite catch it..

  • One of their employees is Carrie Bickner [roguelibrarian.com], author of Web Design on a Shoestring [amazon.com], which I was leafing through this morning. Great book!
  • by Kaa ( 21510 ) on Friday March 04, 2005 @01:08PM (#11845814) Homepage
    Hmm... NYPL wants to charge a fee for providing a high-rez image. That's fine -- someone has to pay the expenses and charging for delivering to me a public-domain image is OK.

    However, quoting from http://www.nypl.org/permissions/newpermissions.htm l : "If ordering reproductions for personal, research or study purposes only (with no publication rights granted) the fee is $30.00 per image." (emphasis mine)

    Umm... where did this right to grant or deny publication rights appear from? If I get a public-domain image, from NYPL or anyone else, I should have the right to publish it as I see fit -- it's in public domain, isn't it? Is NYPL trying to get itself copyright-like rights through contracts (presumably you agree to some contract when you order the image)?

    Moreover, there is a use fee schedule (http://www.nypl.org/permissions/UseFeeSchedule8_1 .PDF) which explicitly sets prices depending on WHO redistributes the images and HOW MANY image copies will be redistributed. This is all normal and standard operating procedure in the copyright world, but again, aren't many of the images we are talking about in public domain?

    Why I should pay a different sum of money to NYPL if I want to distribute 100 copies or 100,000 copies of a public-domain image?
    • Bring in a laptop with a high resolution scanner and start scanning images into your computer. When they ask you what you're doing, you tell them that you are scanning public domain books into your computer because you don't feel like paying their $30 fee. I'm wondering what they could do to you then.
      • "Bring in a laptop with a high resolution scanner and start scanning images into your computer"...

        If you honestly think that the document techs at the NYPL are going to let you get within fifty feet of a 17th century illuminated manuscript, laptop or no, you're out of your mind. It's not like they just pull them off the stacks and hand 'em over. Most books, yes, but not those. There's a pressurized vault underneath the HumLit building on 42nd and fifth that houses most of these volumes and it's only open

    • The Necronomicon (for example) is no longer covered by copyright. If I take a photograph of a page of the Necronomicon, my photograph is covered by copyright. Therefore, I can put restrictions on what you do with my photograph, even though the page that I photographed is copyright-free.
    • by slux ( 632202 ) on Friday March 04, 2005 @04:07PM (#11847910)
      This is very interesting to me since I only recently wondered about using a picture of such a work.

      According to Wikipedia (they need to use a lot of pictures), exact photographic copies of two dimensional public domain images can't be protected by copyright in the US because they lack originality. So it would seem that: No, they can't place such a restriction these works.

      This has a precedent in Bridgeman Art Library vs. Corel Corporation [wikipedia.org].

      Now what I'd really like to know is how does this compare to other countries.

    • Some prick with a web site of railroad memorabilia tried the same crap awhile back, even to the extent of claiming downloading a picture agreed with some draconian EULA.

      After having been Slashdotted, I'm sure he realized it was unenforcable.

  • by Caspian ( 99221 ) on Friday March 04, 2005 @01:12PM (#11845870)
    ...is that you can pronounce it "nipple". Read: "Nipple Digital Gallery Open to Public." Doesn't sound so boring now, does it? ;)

    And yes, I used to live in NYC, and my friends and I always referred to it as "Nipple".
    • I know you're kidding, (ok, half-kidding) but the NYPL is notoriously cute when it comes to naming their software, systems, etc. There's generally a cat theme to EVERYTHING.

      Their online catalogue? Library Entrance Online. LEO. Their access system for the blind and handicapped? Public Access Web System. PAWS. Their in-house cataloguing system (this one make me cringe)? CATalogue of the New York Public. CATNYP.

      Nipples ain't the half of it, trust me.

      Triv

  • The Internet Archive (archive.org [archive.org]) has large collections of video, audio, and text. I've always wondered why they do not have an image archive.
  • NYPL? (Score:1, Redundant)

    by athakur999 ( 44340 )
    When I first read that, I sounded it out in my head as "nipple"... Nipple Digital Library? Sounded good to me. I was pretty disappointed to see what the article was really about.

  • i dont even have to get off my fat ass to borrow a book and get mugged on the way back!
  • Does anyone have a conversion rate for New York Public Libraries to Libraries of Congress?
  • Way to go!

    Wonder when they'll recover.

    • Which reminds, as I reply to myself...

      Why doesn't Slashdot get slashdotted? That's not as silly a question as it sounds. I mean I can see when some individual's or some small business's site gets slashdotted. And of course in NYPL's case I'm sure it's gotten press coverage about their new collection from all over the world. But it seems some pretty sizable sites succumb.

      But back to my question. Does Slashdot have a mighty server farm that most puny earthlngs cannot match?

      What's the largest organization t
  • It would be fun to wire this up to an LCD photo frame or a high definition TV. A hell of a lot cheaper than commercial offerings [galleryplayer.com], that's for sure.
  • I'm glad to see a library doing this.

    Their scans are low resolution -- I don't just mean the thumbnails, but the actual scans they took, which are at up to 400dpi. This may be a good compromise for them, but isn't really archival quality: a lot of detail gets lost from engravings even at 800dpi. These days I generally scan at 1200di before down-sampling for the Web.

    You can also see evidence that they laid the books on a flat-bed scanner. Well, I usually do the same, but the best results are obtained us

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