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AMICO Logo Art Museum Image Consortium: enabling educational use of museum multimedia
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The AMICO Library Frequently Asked Questions

Library Contents Access to The AMICO Library Fees License Terms

Library Contents

What does an AMICO Library entry include?
An AMICO Library entry minimally includes a descriptive "cataloging" record for an artwork, a digital image, and metadata documenting that image. Based on the AMICO Member?s documentation, entries may also include image details and alternate views, collection data, curatorial records, original scholarly research, and other educational material related to those works, much of it not published in other forms.

How good, in lay terms, are the images?
The apparent quality of any image depends on many factors, but in general the AMICO images are being delivered at more than twice the resolution of most images on the web sites of museums today. The general
specification is 1024 x 768 pixels in 24 bit color, which is the maximum screen resolution of most 17" monitors. At this resolution over 1 million pixels (picture elements) are captured in full color. The perceived quality of this image varies with the size of the original work of art, though. For small objects, it could be a magnification over the unassisted eye; for large objects it could be quite poor.

Some AMICO images are available in resolutions up to twenty times the minimum, allowing for considerable "zooming". However, there are some images in the Library that are not quite this large, either because existing digital images were captured at a lower resolution, or because the over-magnification of some objects at this resolution, such as ancient coins or miniatures, is distorting.

What kind of "art" is in the Library?
Images in the AMICO Library include a broad range of works of the following genres: painting, sculpture, photography, print, drawing, ceramic, textiles, metalwork, furniture, books and scrolls, architecture, and archeological finds.

Are there works by contemporary artists in the AMICO Library?

Yes. Artworks from the 20th century are represented in the Library when a museum holds the proper copyright clearance. Also, AMICO has come to an agreement with the Artists Rights Society (ARS) and The Visual Arts and Galleries Association that greatly expands the Library's access to contemporary and modern content. AMICO pays a royalty to artists and their representatives enabling AMICO Members to contribute copyrighted works of art into the AMICO Library.

Will the Library grow over time?
Yes. Members have committed to adding a minimum number of new works to the Library each year, in addition to adding to the documentation of works already contributed. Over time, AMICO Members hope to add documentation from internal museum files, from museum education programs, from public exhibitions and from published scholarly studies.

When the A
MICO Library is updated each year, will the prior version be archived for future reference?
The archival record of the works of art and their documentation is maintained by the museums as part of their mission to preserve the works in their collections. The AMICO Library is a continually updated reference tool.

What proportion of Member collections is represented?

Some Member institutions (albeit small) will have the entirety of their collections represented in the AMICO Library soon. Others will add works each year, possibly over decades, until their collections are significantly represented.

Will Members manage to keep up with the AMICO work load?
AMICO Members have set contribution targets that they believe they can meet. It is expected that over time the works contributed to the Library will be those whose documentation is created or updated as part of the regular workload of the museum, through new acquisitions, items going on loan or exhibit, items being studied or published, and items whose commercial rights have been requested.

Who determines what images the AMICO Library contains and how?
Each member determines what they will contribute to AMICO each year. Users may make suggestions for works to be added to the AMICO Library using the forms at Members have generally been able to satisfy these requests.

Who contributes to the AMICO Library?
To contribute to the AMICO Library, you must be an AMICO Member. Please contact Jennifer Trant, AMICO Executive Director, for more information, by email to

Access to The AMICO Library

Who may have access to the AMICO Library?
The AMICO Library is available under subscription through a number of distributors. Institutions and individuals may subscribe to the AMICO Library.

Who are the AMICO Library end users?
The AMICO Library wishes to serve the interests of a varied array of users. In AMICO Member institutions The AMICO Library may be used by staff members from curatorial to educational departments, as well as placed in the museum as a reference tool for visitors.

In Subscriber institutions The AMICO Library could assist in teaching art history and a broad range of humanities subjects. It can be used by students in their research and projects. Generally, access to The AMICO Library will help learners of all ages and levels increase their understanding of art objects and cultural heritage.

Will users influence what works the AMICO Library contains?
It is expected that users will have considerable influence over what is included in The AMICO Library. In the aggregate, what content is being used will be reported back to the museums. Users will also be surveyed to request input on areas not represented.

In addition, users with close relationships with Members holding works which they are studying or teaching will doubtless advocate contribution of particular works directly with museum staff. Where specific needs are identified AMICO Members are exploring joint projects to address lacunae in The AMICO Library.

Could we mount the AMICO database on our campus?
Yes, if you are a licensing institution. Universities signing the "long-license", may mount any part of The AMICO Library (including the whole) on local servers. But it is a large amount of data, and AMICO expects this strategy will, over time, be most useful for establishing "reserve readings" and class laboratory facilities, or for applications that require extremely high quality images which will not transmit easily over the Internet.

It is also expected that some institutions will opt to mount The AMICO Library in order to exploit local software functionality. Individual universities may elect to become "distributors" to other AMICO licensed institutions or to other categories of institutions, such as regional K-12 schools or public libraries.

How would my organization become an AMICO Distributor?
To discuss creating distribution functionality for the AMICO Library you should contact Jennifer Trant, AMICO Executive Director, via email to Each Distributor may have access to test data through a Development Agreement for a period of up to one year prior to offering the service, in order to develop software appropriate to accessing the AMICO Library.

Is AMICO developing a network of museums?
No. AMICO is using existing distribution systems to reach educational licensees. But members of AMICO are themselves a network that shares information and expertise.

Is AMICO using special technology?
No. The AMICO Library conforms to existing data and technical standards. The works of art are documented in well-known and widely supported file formats for text, images, and multimedia.


Does AMICO Library access cost anything?
Yes. AMICO charges a subscription fee to cover the cost of collating and enhancing the documentation provided by the members. No money is returned to members. AMICO?s distributors may also charge a service fee for providing access and support.

Are there subscription levels?
Subscription fees are tiered based on the number of potential users at a subscribing institution. Subscribers have unlimited use of the resource.

How much does an AMICO Library Subscription (license) cost?
Each distributor sets its own combined license and service fee. For information about distributors and their services, you can begin at

How is the subscription fee calculated?
License fees are calculated to recover the costs AMICO incurs in building the Library and delivering it to distributors.

Are there any other charges?
No. The only fees for using The AMICO Library are the AMICO License fee and the Distributors? access fee.

Why is this an annual subscription?
The number of works in The AMICO Library is growing annually, and works in the Library are being enhanced regularly. This results in annual costs to AMICO that must be covered if The AMICO Library is to continue to be available for educational use.

Are the museums making money from this?
No. Members of AMICO pay dues in addition to contributing documentation of works of art that meet the AMICO Technical Specification. In addition, the costs to AMICO Members of documenting their collections and making digital surrogates are not reimbursed by AMICO.

Finally, AMICO Members bear the full costs of researching rights to works, and some AMICO Members are also paying licensing fees to contemporary artists and artists estates in order to include contemporary works in the AMICO Library. Members see participation in AMICO as part of their educational mission, and gain other benefits from their collaboration.

License Terms

Can I get a copy of the AMICO License Agreements?
AMICO makes the full text of all its licenses available as .PDF files on its web site. Please send AMICO your comments.

How are AMICO Licenses developed?
AMICO licenses have been developed in conjunction with users from each educational community that will use The AMICO Library. The basic principle is that The AMICO Library is to be used for educational, non-commercial, purposes. Institutions sign licenses and are entitled to designate categories of users.

The AMICO license builds on work of the Museum Educational Site Licensing project which established who in the university community may be and may not be a "designated user" and what "uses" they were permitted or prohibited from making under this license.

What are the terms of the license?
AMICO offers separate licenses for universities, museums, public libraries, unaffiliated scholars and kindergarten through grade 12 schools. Each license has a term of one year, during which "designated users" may make unlimited "permitted uses" wherever they are. The Licenses are not restricted to a physical site and copies of AMICO works may be made by any designated user. Redistribution of any part of the Library and publication of works are prohibited without specific authorization from the rights holder(s). One may not post works from the AMICO Library on the public Internet.

What about Fair Use?
The AMICO licenses explicitly state that they do not limit "Fair Use" as defined in the US. Copyright Act. The licenses also permit many uses that go beyond Fair Use.

Who can use the materials?
Each license permits the licensing institution to define its "designated users" within the classes of users allowed. For universities and museums, these are all staff, students, researchers, and visitors to the institution. They do not include people who pay only for access to information services or from whom the institution is soliciting contributions (such as alumni of a university or ?friends? of the museum). Unaffiliated scholar licenses give access only to the individual subscriber.

Can I use the materials in the way that I want to?
Each license establishes explicitly what can and cannot be done with AMICO works. No further permission is required to do all that is permitted; excluded uses will require additional permissions from the rights holders. Generally the uses established allow for use in all ways that are part of the educational practices and missions of the licensing institutions, including teaching, research, on-line reserves, testing, distance education, incorporation into student projects, and retention in portfolios.

Will the AMICO license allow for use of images in scholarly publications? Republication and redistribution of works in The AMICO Library, including scholarly publication and posting materials on public access web sites is not permitted. AMICO can not grant these rights, because it does not have authority to relicense works contributed by the museums. AMICO has created a simplified means for users to request such rights directly from the museum using the Reproduction Rights Request Form at

What about sponsored research?
Sponsored research is explicitly included, and the subjects of such research are included within the definitions of "designated users" in the university license. AMICO hopes that the results of such work will be shared with the broader community.

Will I be able to teach my course with only digital images?
It is unlikely that The AMICO Library would contain the optimum content required to teach any topic. In some areas there may be adequate depth and breadth in the Library to base a course solely on AMICO content. Over time, it is of course hoped that The AMICO Library will constitute the largest and most important digital resource for art scholarship. But even then it will not replace other sources; scholars will always want to use primary and secondary sources, publications, books, and articles for their teaching and research.

Can AMICO material be used with other digital information available on my campus?
Yes, definitely. The AMICO Library Technical Specification conforms to many information systems standards which are specifically designed to assist in such integration. The AMICO license explicitly allows for the integration of AMICO cataloging data in OPACs (including providing access to a limited subset of data beyond the university to users who are not among the "designated users" of AMICO) and for the incorporation of AMICO works into faculty teaching materials and student projects.

Will I be allowed to modify and adapt images in The AMICO Library?
This is a very sensitive issue, as any creative artist knows. Some AMICO licenses permit the modification of works within The AMICO Library for educational purposes in return for agreements by licensees that they will monitor and report such uses.


In June of 2005, the members of the Art Museum Image Consortium voted to dissolve their collaboration. This site remains online for archival reasons.