The Cleveland Museum of Art has released 34,000 of its public domain works as high-res digital images under CC-0. It’s a clean interface, and my test search for OA + “cats” came down in about 15 seconds and scrolled down easily.

My first test was a tiled zoomable high-res image, and appeared to have no download, with instead a link to “Request a digital file from image services”. Where… “The standard fee for all service requests is $75”. Hmmm… really?

In framed mode, only a part of the tiling system could be had via right-clicking and “save as…”. By switching into full-view I remained in zoomable mode… but could now right-click a large portion of the image, but I still only got a portion. This seems to be standard across the new collection.

While the new collection is welcome, this is definitely not CC-0 image delivery in the open manner of the Met, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the NYPL. The online presentation, though slick, seems to me like an exercise in public obfuscation that is designed to generate $75 digital file enquiries at the Museum’s picture-desk. I guess we will now have to wait for the Wikipedians to de-zoomify from the OpenSeadragon zoomify system and rip the images into WikiMedia, and thus get them into the public domain in a properly re-usable form.

Here’s my contribution to the cause. Jean-Paul Laurens, “A Funeral” c. mid-1870s-early 1880s, as a rip at 3,800 pixels (suitable for magazine print). Laurens had a macabre streak and was known as “the painter of the dead”.

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