When in 2012 @Rijksmuseum decided to put their image library with 250000 hi-res digital images into the public domain, they did something extraordinary. Since then everyone can access and use the images from the Rijksmuseum's collection free of charge to discover, collect, share, touch, ‘like’ and edit via a website called “Rijksstudio”. And better still, they chose to use the Creative Commons license for all images.

A Creative Commons (CC) license is one of several public copyright licenses that enable the free distribution of an otherwise copyrighted work. A CC license is used when an author wants to give people the right to share, use, and build upon a work that they have created. In this case, the Rijksmuseum choose the CC0 ‘open access’ license, which means that the content can be used globally without restrictions, even for commercial purposes. Anyone can combine art images with text, audio, video and animations to make a new work. This ‘remix’ can be shared, used for education and tours, and even sold as a new product.

Check this very useful SlideShare from Jane Park (@janedaily) about Creative Commons & Cultural Heritage: http://www.slideshare.net/janeatcc/cc-cultural-heritage

Over 50 cultural institutions worldwide have made their permanent collections or records available under CC licences or public domain tools. The amount has tripled in the last five years. I am excited that they were joined this week by New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art (@metmuseum), which released 375000 digital works via CC0.