BBC to put 200,000 paintings online

We wrote about Google Earth bringing masterpieces from the Prado Museum to armchair art lovers. Art lovers now have another reason to rejoice as BBC is planning to put up several of the nation’s oil paintings online.

The BBC is to put every one of the 200,000 oil paintings in public ownership in the UK on the internet as well as opening up the Arts Council’s vast film archive online as part of a range of initiatives that it has pledged will give it a “deeper commitment to arts and music”.

A partnership with the Public Catalogue Foundation charity will see all the UK’s publicly owned oil paintings – 80% of which are not on public display – placed on the internet by 2012.

The Public Catalogue Foundation, launched in 2003, is 30% of the way through cataloguing the UK’s collection of oil paintings.

And Cory Doctrow says:

This is ferociously awesome, at least on the face of it, though one can imagine all kinds of ways they could screw this up (crappy EULA, stupid Flash-based DRM, low-rez only, wasting license-fee money trying to keep non-British IP addresses out of the collection, etc). But, assuming they do this the way you’d expect something built by and for the Internet would work, this is the best news for free culture that I’ve heard since the BBC announced that they were going to put all their archives online for free remixing.

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