Life Archive on Google

Google announced Tuesday that it was making available the Life photo archive through its image search engine:

Only a very small percentage of these images have ever been published. The rest have been sitting in dusty archives in the form of negatives, slides, glass plates, etchings, and prints. We’re digitizing them so that everyone can easily experience these fascinating moments in time. Today about 20 percent of the collection is online; during the next few months, we will be adding the entire LIFE archive – about 10 million photos.

The collection will be available at To find photos from the Life archive from within the Google Image Search, include “source:life” in your search query.

For now, framed photos can be purchased through QOOP [announcement]. Unfortunately it is impossible to purchase unframed prints at this time, so the least expensive product is $79.99.

An article from Photo District News has interesting details on the arrangement. It states that Life hopes this portal will drive traffic to when it launches, where “photo books and prints” will be available. It also has this to say regarding use of the photos:

While Time Inc. retains the copyright to the images, it is taking a relaxed attitude toward photo sharing. The LIFE site on Google displays no statement about how the images can or cannot be used, and informally, the company says it will turn a blind eye to non-commercial uses.

It goes on to say that blog postings will be a low priority, good news for those of us who write often on photographic art history.


~ by David Cupp on November 20, 2008.

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