can you control public domain images? should you?

Peter Hirtle has a great post over at the LibraryLaw blog about the Smithsonian’s attempt to control reproduction and subsequent use of the materials they have made available digitally and online, many of which are in the public domain. A group called Public Resource decided to push the envelope on the Smithsonian’s terms of service, specifically their copyright notice, and downloaded all 6000+ images and made them available on Flickr where they still are. Hirtle questions the legality of what Public Resource has done, but also questions the copyright that the Smithsonian asserts.

Again, I wish the Smithsonian didn’t try to assert control over its images. And while I think that Public.Resource.Org crossed the line, it is ridiculous that anyone else can now take any of public domain images Public.Resource.Org has distributed and do whatever they want with them. (Any contract limiting use of the images can only be between the Smithsonian and Public.Resource.Org.) That is just one more reason why repositories should focus on providing good services to users, rather than attempting to establish monopoly control over images from their holdings.

Update: I made this for you.

fare yus lol

One Response to “can you control public domain images? should you?”

  1. A Public (Domain) Affair « Library Playground Says:

    [...] Copyright and education watchers (yes all 7 of us) have had another cause célèbre this week with the move by a group called public.resource.org to take images from the Smithsonian Images web site and upload them to Flickr. (Credit to Jessamyn whose feed was the first place I saw news of this). [...]