6th November 2020

The BNE releases more than 30 million images for all use: El Cantar de mio Cid , Don Quixote and the manuscripts of Da Vinci

The suppression of payment for the commercial use of digital images in the public domain, which the Royal Board of the National Library approved last April, will be effective on the first day of November, after the technical processes and updates of the web destined to the request for documents.

As of that date, any citizen will be able to access, download, modify and share more than 220,000 titles of all types of documents, which represent more than 30,000,000 pages from the Digital Hemeroteca and the Hispanic Digital Library in which the digital versions of valuable works and collections of the BNE are housed: manuscripts, incunabula, old books, scores, maps, newspapers and historical magazines … which become free resources to be used by the creative and cultural industries, for publishers, researchers, educational centres, but also by the general public for any use, including commercial. It applies, in any case, to images in the public domain, not to those subject to copyright whose content belongs to the owner of the rights.

The user, with just three clicks, accesses either of the two portals and can copy or download the image he wants in its pdf or jpg versions. As of the entry into force of the new Resolution, it will not be necessary to pay anything for this commercial use of digital images, but it will continue to be necessary to pay for the reproduction of said images if they are requested in high resolution, since the BNE This process involves an extra cost. In this case, the user must access the ‘Services’> ‘Document reproduction’ tab and fill in the ‘Document reproduction form’ with the data of the applicant and the work requested.

“We want to give true meaning to the public domain, that it really belongs to everyone and can be used freely. We want it to serve to create and promote new projects ”, says Mar Pérez Morillo, director of the BNE’s Digital Processes and Services Division.


Universal access to knowledge

With this initiative, the BNE joins the European directives and recommendations on the Reuse of Information in the Public Sector, which promote the opening of content to promote a knowledge economy. Along these lines, the great European project for access to digital content, Europeana, also recommends the use of open licenses in its Charter on the public domain .

This measure is part of the strategy to disseminate and promote the reuse of the BNE’s collections, which began in 2007 and 2008 with the launch of the Digital Hemeroteca and the Hispanic Digital Library and, later, was expanded with the creation from the BNElab experimentation laboratory in 2017, where projects such as BNEscolar and Comunidad BNE have been developed . Before opening the commercial use of the images, their rights were already transferred and their free use was allowed for educational or research purposes.

For Ana Santos Aramburo, director of the National Library, “our intention is to promote the reuse of images and to put the BNE’s funds at the service of a confined society and of a cultural and publishing industry with its very limited resources, and to help the expansion of knowledge ”.

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