Photo by Eugene Atget; digital image courtesy of the Getty's Open Content Program.
It sometimes seems like we, as a society, are leaning ever more towards a more creatively close-minded frame of thought. When companies are trying to patent naturally existing genes and organisms, that is going too far. And companies like Disney are pushing the boundaries of artistic copyright ever farther. As a creator myself, I feel kind of mixed about this, of course. When is it appropriate for anything to fall out of private or commercial ownership and into the public domain? It's a complex problem with a multitude of answers and viewpoints.
Photo by Lewis Hines; digital image courtesy of the Getty's Open Content Program.
Anyways, in a move that contradicts my previous statement, the Getty Museum and Trust are making a great many images in their collection available as free downloads through their Open Content Program. There are some restrictions for the commercial use of these images, but we now have access to a great many rather famous and significant images from the beginnings of photography (mostly images from the first century of photography), not to mention a "few" paintings, sculpture, drawings, and more. There are close to 5000 total images. You can download 300 ppi JPEGs that are suitable for printing at home, so you can print off some classics for your own home or office, or use them as classroom examples, if you are a teacher.
Eugene Atget is well-represented in the offerings, as well as Walker Evans, Lewis Hines, and Nadar, an early superstar photographer. And in a small warning, a few of the photos in the program could be considered inappropriate and possibly objectionable. If you are a teacher and letting your students peruse the archives, please keep this in mind. There's even a nice painting of Irises by some Dutch guy, that some of you may like. You can read about the program here and browse through the images in the program here.
Painting by Vincent Van Gogh; digital image courtesy of the Getty's Open Content Program.