The New York Public Library (NYPL) has released 180,000 copyright-free images into the public domain.
The high-resolution collections were uploaded to the NYPL website on January 6 and can be viewed, downloaded and shared for free.
Whilst a large portion of the photos document early 20th century New York City, some material goes back as far as the 11thcentury.
On its website, NYPL said it had “enhanced access to all public domain items in Digital Collections so that everyone has the freedom to enjoy and reuse these materials in almost limitless ways.”
Andrew Norton, US Pirate Party Chair, commended the decision to release the images.
“It is a very positive step, enriching the public commons that were the lynchpin and intent of copyright laws before their hijacking by corporate interests. We strongly applaud this action to keep culture available and usable to the public,” he said.
Copyright reform makes up a key element of the pirate movement, with Pirate Party UK’s policy calling for a maximum copyright length of 10 years.
The newly released images include categories such as: New York City, theatrical photography, fashion, nature, and gay & lesbian history.
There’s also the Green Books – a series of guides published during the era of segregation that recommended hotels, bars & restaurants for African-American travellers.
In addition to making the collections accessible, NYPL also provided a bunch of tools designed to make rifling through the trove of fascinating images a whole lot more fun.
There’s a handy visualisation tool that organises every single image in tiny pixel form to make it look like some new sort of abstract art. They can be sorted via genre, chronology and even by colour.
Then there’s Mansion Maniac, a pseudo-arcade game in which you can navigate Pacman’s wealthy cousin through New York City mansion floor plans.
And of course, it wouldn’t be the Internet without a good old-fashioned GIF generator.