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A US academic has started a scheme to make 12 million copyright-free images from the Internet Archive available on the photo database site Flickr.
Kalev Leetaru of Georgetown University has so far extracted 2.6 million copyright-free images from books dating from 1500 to 1922. The books were scanned by the Archive using the optical character recognition scanning method, but until now only the text was searchable.
The Archive is a digital library that has so far scanned 600 million printed books.
The scheme aims to make the images searchable on Flickr by the paragraphs and the preceding and following image in the original printed editions.
Leetaru told TBO: “One of the greatest aspects of this project is that we have all these digitised out-of-copyright books that libraries have been digitising for years, but they’ve been sitting as hundred-page PDFs focused on making them text-searchable.
“The hard work of digitising these out-of-copyright books has already been done. This project basically re-imagines what we can do with those digitised books: instead of just putting PDFs up on a website or focusing on text search, it focuses on the images within,” he added.
Robert Miller, global director of books at the Archive and involved with the project, told TBO that the freedom from copyright restriction was not to be overlooked.
He said: “It allows you or me to discover books and not to be locked down with traditional copyright rules.”
Internet Archive; online copyright; books; Flickr