Tiny Speck releases entire Glitch art archives into public domain

Once an imaginative multiplayer game that explored the minds of ancient giants, Glitch closed down last year. Now its publisher is letting anyone use its innovative art for almost any purpose.

Daniel Terdiman Former Senior Writer / News
Daniel Terdiman is a senior writer at CNET News covering Twitter, Net culture, and everything in between.
Daniel Terdiman
2 min read
All the art from the multiplayer game Glitch is being made available for public domain use. Tiny Speck

Once upon a time, a beautiful game called Glitch delved into the minds of ancient giants. It enthralled the small but passionate number of players who took the time to explore its deep, artistic stories.

Glitch was developed by Tiny Speck, a San Francisco startup led by Flickr co-founder Stewart Butterfield. At its peak, 150,000 players enjoyed the game, not least because its developers had invested immense amounts of time in its complex and imaginative art.

Iin 2009, CNET reported exclusively on the creation of Glitch, which in the end didn't make it as a commercial enterprise. In 2012, Tiny Speck pivoted and now publishes Slack, the team communication tools it built while developing the game. That was a fitting end for a Butterfield project, given that the Flickr photo-sharing site was created as a side element of Game Neverending, a game that never went anywhere. That story is part of Silicon Valley lore.

Now Tiny Speck has announced that it has decided to donate the entire Glitch art archives -- except for the game's logo -- into the public domain. With more than 10,000 pieces of art available for free, and even without requiring credit, to anyone who wants it, Butterfield said that "this is probably ... the biggest release of art of this type into the public domain and we hope it will be a valuable resource for indie developers, students, artists and even commercial projects."

A player-created scene from Glitch. Glitch user Jennyanydots

Added Butterfield in an e-mail to CNET, "There are more than ten thousand items and millions of frames of animation. It includes the whole avatar system, the world's flora (from bubble trees to egg plants) and fauna (from tree sloths to yogic delivery frogs), hundreds of unique characters (from the mythic Giants and the Rook to everyday vendors and street spirits), thousands of items (tools, resources, furniture), the complete housing and tower building systems and many thousands of environmental art assets used to create a massive world with dozens of styles."

On its Web site, Tiny Speck makes it more plain what it hopes people will do with the assets: "Go and make beautiful things."

What this means, Tiny Speck wrote, is that the company has entirely given up its copyright interests in the art, and is allowing anyone to use any of those more than 10,000 assets for just about any purpose, regardless of whether it's nonprofit or commercial. The company did it by assigning a Creative Commons CC0 "No rights reserved" license to the entire archive.

For now, the company said, it is expecting that the assets will be used by developers. It plans to highlight the most creative adaptations. "You may do what you please with what we've provided," the company wrote. "Our intention is to dedicate these works to the public domain and make them freely available to all, without restriction."