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Free Culture! Public Domain Photography on the Web

This slide show is a presentation I have given to Yale librarians, students, and faculty on how to navigate the many online collections, search engines, and websites providing access to public domain images.

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Free Culture! Public Domain Photography on the Web

  1. 1. Free Culture! Public Domain Photography on the Web Top: Federal Art Project poster, Columbus, Ohio, 1937. Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Works Progress Administration Poster Collection, [LC-USZC2-5421] Right: Iowa : WPA Federal Art Project. Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Work Projects Administration Poster Collection, [LC-USZC2-870]
  2. 2. Where can you use public domain photos? Research paper Published paper Blog Anywhere!
  3. 3. opyright <ul><ul><li>What is copyright? Copyright is a form of protection grounded in the U.S. Constitution and granted by law for original works of authorship fixed in a tangible medium of expression. Copyright covers both published and unpublished works. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>What does copyright protect? Copyright, a form of intellectual property law, protects original works of authorship including literary, dramatic, musical, and artistic works, such as poetry, novels, movies, songs, computer software, and architecture. Copyright does not protect facts, ideas, systems, or methods of operation, although it may protect the way these things are expressed. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>In addition, certain authors of works of visual art have the rights of attribution and integrity as described in section 106A of the 1976 Copyright Act. For further information, request Circular 40 , Copyright Registration for Works of the Visual Arts. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>It is illegal for anyone to violate any of the rights provided by the copyright law to the owner of copyright. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul></ul>
  4. 4. Walt Disney’s Steamboat Willie (1928) Buster Keaton’s Steamboat Bill Jr. (1928) The Pot Calls the Kettle Black
  5. 6. Flexible Copyright <ul><li>Creative Commons: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Creative Commons provides free tools that let authors, scientists, artists, and educators easily mark their creative work with the freedoms they want it to carry. You can use CC to change your copyright terms from ‘All Rights Reserved’ to ‘Some Rights Reserved.’” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Here is a video explaining CC’s mission featuring the White Stripes: http:// / </li></ul></ul>
  6. 7. Fair Use <ul><li>“ [F]air use of a copyrighted work, including such use by reproduction in copies … for purposes such as criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research, is not an infringement of copyright. </li></ul><ul><li>Four Criteria </li></ul><ul><li>(1) the purpose and character of the use, including whether such use is of a commercial nature or is for nonprofit educational purposes; </li></ul><ul><li>(2) the nature of the copyrighted work; </li></ul><ul><li>(3) the amount and substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; and </li></ul><ul><li>(4) the effect of the use upon the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work. </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul>Sloganeering by the music /sound collage group Negativland, who have made a career of pirating and repurposing copyrighted materials – most famously with the band U2.
  7. 8. -Part I- What is the public domain? <ul><ul><li>“ The term ‘public domain’ refers to creative materials that are not protected by intellectual property laws such as copyright, trademark or patent laws. The public owns these works, not an individual author or artist. Anyone can use a public domain work without obtaining permission, but no one can ever own it.”* </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>* Nolo, “Copyright & Fair Use: Welcome to the Public Domain,” Stanford University Libraries (2003), (accessed 4/25/2007). </li></ul></ul>
  8. 9. How do you know if a work is in the public domain? <ul><li>All works published in the U.S. before 1923 are in the public domain </li></ul><ul><li>After that, it’s a crap-shoot </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Case by case research </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Check the Copyright Office: </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Cornell University has a helpful cheat-sheet </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Copyright Office Circular 15a, “Duration of Copyright” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul></ul>
  9. 11. Why are certain works in the public domain? <ul><li>Expiration of copyright: the copyright has expired. </li></ul><ul><li>Failure to renew copyright: the owner failed to follow copyright renewal rules. </li></ul><ul><li>Dedication: the owner deliberately places it in the public domain. </li></ul><ul><li>No copyright protection available: copyright law does not protect this type of work* </li></ul><ul><li>*Nolo, “Copyright & Fair Use: Welcome to the Public Domain,” Stanford University Libraries (2003), (accessed 4/25/2007). </li></ul>Sol Lewitt, Arcs in Four Directions, 1999. Enters public domain in 2077, barring further copyright extensions.
  10. 12. Examples of PD images (Left) Federal Art Project poster, May 14 1941 Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Work Projects Administration Poster Collection, [LC-USZC2-5350] (Above) March on Washington. Aug. 28, 1963. Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, USN&WR Collection, [LC-U9-10364-37] WPA poster, 1940-41. Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Work Projects Administration Poster Collection, [LC-USZC2-1109]
  11. 13. Government Works: No copyright protection available <ul><li>“ Publication and other forms of distribution: Posters in this collection were made by artists working for the Works Projects Administration, a &quot;New Deal&quot; program of the U.S. Government. There are no known restrictions on the use of these posters.” </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul>
  12. 14. Dedication <ul><li>“ Publication and other forms of distribution: Per the deed of gift, the U.S. News & World Report, Inc., dedicated to the public all rights it held for the photographs in this collection upon its donation to the Library. The majority of the photographs in this collection were done for hire by U.S. News & World Report staff photographers, primarily Warren K. Leffler , Thomas J. O'Halloran, Marion S. Trikosko, John Bledsoe, and Chick Harrity identified on photographic captions by their initials --WKL, TOH, MST, JTB, and CWH. There are no known restrictions on their photographs.” </li></ul><ul><li> </li></ul>
  13. 16. Corner of Liberty and Fifth Avenues 10:55 AM. Pittsburgh, Penn. Ca. 1940. Smoke Control Lantern Slides, Archives Service Center. “ If a user makes a request for, or later uses, a photocopy or reproduction for purposes in excess of &quot;fair use,&quot; that user may be liable for copyright infringement. This institution reserves the right to refuse to accept a copying order if, in its judgment, fulfillment of the order would involve violation of copyright law.” “ The Smoke Control Lantern Slide Collection contains sixty-three images documenting the city of Pittsburgh in the 1940’s and 1950’s, before and after smoke control ordinances were passed regulating the burning of coal. Although the creator and exact date of the collection is not known for certain, it was created to showcase the smoke control legislation's remarkable results.”;page=index;c=smoke;g=imls Confusion Abounds!
  14. 17. -Part II- Locating & Assessing Public Domain Imagery <ul><li>How do these sites differ from one another? </li></ul>
  15. 18. Library of Congress <ul><li>Established in 1800 </li></ul><ul><li>Largest library in the world – over 100 million items! </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Over 20 million books, almost 60 million manuscripts, and over 14 million visual materials… </li></ul></ul><ul><li>“ The Library's mission is to make its resources available and useful to the Congress and the American people and to sustain and preserve a universal collection of knowledge and creativity for future generations.” </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Welcome message from James H. Billington, current Librarian of Congress, http:// /about/ . </li></ul></ul>
  16. 19. Copyright deposits in the basement before classifying at the Library of Congress, Jefferson Building, ca. 1898. Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, [LC-USZ62-38245] Library of Congress, Jefferson Building, ca. 1920-50. Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, Theodor Horydczak Collection, [LC-H814-T01-L03-001]
  17. 20. Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division <ul><li>Collection Scope: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ [The] prints and photographs collections today number more than 13.7 million images. These include photographs, fine and popular prints and drawings, posters, and architectural and engineering drawings. While international in scope, the collections are particularly rich in materials produced in, or documenting the history of, the United States and the lives, interests and achievements of the American people.” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>P & P Online Catalog includes approx. 50% of the Division’s holdings. </li></ul>
  18. 21. Example of Holdings <ul><li>Farm Security Administration – Office of War Information Photograph Collection (FSA-OWI) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Documented American life from 1935-1944 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Contains the work of essential American photographers: Walker Evans, Dorothea Lange, Gordon Parks, Ben Shahn, and others </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>171,000 black-and-white film negatives and transparencies, 1,610 color transparencies, and around 107,000 black-and-white photographic prints </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>FSA-OWI Information: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Search the FSA-OWI: </li></ul></ul>
  19. 22. Walker Evans, Bethlehem graveyard and steel mill. Pennsylvania, 1935. Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Farm Security Administration - Office of War Information Photograph Collection, [LC-USF342-T01-001167-A]
  20. 23. Where to start looking for public domain photos in the Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division? <ul><li>Several ways to approach the P & P Division </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division Reading Room: http:// / </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>View a list of collections: </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Or you can see a list of images on popular topics: </li></ul></ul></ul>
  21. 24. Searching the Prints & Photographs Division <ul><li>Start with a simple search: Dorothea Lange’s iconic photograph Migrant Mother </li></ul><ul><li>Digitized image of very high quality </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Uncompressed tiff available as well, along with other jpegs of varying size </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Accurate, although not conclusive, metadata </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Camera format, government agency, alterations done to original negative, etc </li></ul></ul>
  22. 25. Dorothea Lange, Migrant Mother (1936). Orig. title: Destitute pea pickers in California. Mother of seven children. Age thirty-two. Nipomo, California . Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, Farm Security Administration - Office of War Information Photograph Collection, [LC-DIG-fsa-8b29516] Public domain image taken by Lange while working in for the Farm Security Administration
  23. 26. Subject & Keyword Searching <ul><li>Effectively locate materials using keywords and subject headings. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Keyword: Depression </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Keyword: Dust Bowl </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Pursue more specific Library of Congress Subject Headings for narrower results. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Compare results within P & P Catalog to searches with similar terms in Flickr and other popular sites. </li></ul>
  24. 27. -Downloading- Image types/formats available <ul><li>Mostly offers medium resolution jpegs, typically 72-300 pixels per inch </li></ul><ul><li>Sometimes high resolution, uncompressed TIFF files are available, too. </li></ul><ul><li>Sometimes, only a thumbnail image is provided. In these situations, larger jpegs can be ordered from the Photoduplication Service: http:// / . </li></ul><ul><li>Read more about LC’s digitization process: </li></ul>
  25. 28. Remember, always provide a credit for an image! <ul><li>Here is the LC template for crediting an image from the Farm Security Administration – Office of War Information: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, FSA/OWI Collection, [reproduction number, e.g., LC-USF34-9058-C] </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Chicago Style: </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>MLA: </li></ul></ul>
  26. 29. Additional LC Prints & Photographs Resources <ul><li>Library of Congress Resource Lists & Bibliographies for Prints and Photographs: http:// </li></ul><ul><li>Publications Relating to Prints and Photographs Division Collections: </li></ul><ul><li>Pictorial Collection Guides: Representative Examples: . </li></ul>
  27. 30. Where can you use public domain photos? Research paper Published paper Blog Anywhere!
  28. 31. <ul><li>How Does Google Image Search Work? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ Google analyzes the text on the page adjacent to the image, the image caption and dozens of other factors to determine the image content. Google also uses sophisticated algorithms to remove duplicates and ensure that the highest quality images are presented first in your results.” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Ranking </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Google uses a search algorithm (PageRank) to rank the results of your search. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Rankings are largely based on how many pages link to a particular page </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Text-matching techniques are also used to increase accuracy </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul></ul>
  29. 32. <ul><li>Problems with Google </li></ul><ul><li>Google Image search for “Migrant Mother”: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Over 1,500 results! </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Poor image quality for many </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Columbia University’s image is very poor: </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Where am I?! Results include non-scholarly pages </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>One of the top hits is from a site called “America Hurrah,” which appears to be someone’s personal site: </li></ul></ul></ul>
  30. 34. Sometimes a scholarly resource will not provide a high quality image. Especially if it is part of a departmental website and not part of an official collection and/or database. Columbia University, American Studies Program:
  31. 35. LC vs. Columbia Univ. Dorothea Lange. Migrant Mother, 1936. Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, [LC-DIG-fsa-8b29516] Dorothea Lange. Migrant Mother, 1936. Located at Columbia University’s American Studies Program
  32. 36. Library of Congress vs. Library of Congress
  33. 39. When Google is OK <ul><li>Sometimes a quick Google search is all you need. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Ready reference </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Use advanced search techniques to get what you need: http:// =en . </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Limit your search to a particular type of domain: &quot;migrant mother&quot; </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Learn more about Advanced Search: </li></ul></ul></ul></ul>
  34. 40. <ul><li>Pros and Cons </li></ul><ul><li>Lots of great images BUT </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Wildly varying results due to social tagging & lack of authority control </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Confusing copyright info, “some rights reserved” Creative Commons license </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Extraneous info </li></ul></ul>Migrant Mother? This image, by Sean Dreillinger, is one of the first hits when you search “Migrant Mother” in Flickr.
  35. 41. Tags, tags, everywhere are tags <ul><li>Flickr’s content is organized by social tagging </li></ul><ul><ul><li>“ What are tags? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>You can give your photos a ‘tag’, which is like a keyword or category label. Tags help you find photos which have something in common. You can assign up to 70 tags to each photo.” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul>
  36. 42. Happy Tag <ul><li>User/creator tags their own work </li></ul><ul><li>Not as arcane as controlled vocabulary found in libraries </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>Potentially easier to find something categorized as wedding or family vs. Video game characters in art or Bread & soup lines--United States--1930-1940 . Neither subject headings yield any results in Flickr </li></ul></ul></ul>Photo of the Beinecke Rare book and Manuscript Library at Yale. Tagged as Beinecke, by Rodney Nelson
  37. 44. Sad Tag Is this photo an cmwdorange? According to seahorse_ / melanie it is. <ul><li>Tags are often imprecise or confusing </li></ul><ul><ul><li>wedding doesn’t tell you much about the image </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>cmwdorange is one of the most popular recent tags. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>62 photos with this tag </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Like Google, overwhelming results </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Almost 4 million images are tagged as wedding ! </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Good luck finding your image </li></ul></ul>
  38. 45. They are laughing at you for using lousy tags! Uploaded on June 18, 2007 by pro365ject .
  39. 46. Searching <ul><li>Migrant Mother on Flickr </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Is she there? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>How is she tagged? </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Let’s find out!!! </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Can search full text of a photo’s record or just the tag </li></ul><ul><li>Full text results sorted 3 ways: most relevant, most recent, most interesting </li></ul><ul><li>Tags results sorted 2 ways: most recent, most interesting </li></ul>
  40. 47. Troubling Results <ul><li>Searching by tags doesn’t get you the image </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Only 9 images tagged as migrant mother </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>1 is a photo of Florence Thompson by Lange, but not the one we are looking for </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Searching full text gets us the image but… </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Most relevant: 5 th result </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Most recent: 7 th result </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Most interesting: 8 th result </li></ul></ul>
  41. 51. Summary <ul><li>Millions of great images, BUT </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Tagging can lead to disorganized results </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Flickr’s sorting options did not help with our search </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Kitchen sink approach - creator generated collection and organization. </li></ul></ul>Uploaded on September 17, 2006 by andrew d miller Uploaded on December 2, 2006 by noktulo Uploaded on June 20, 2005 by seanfraga Uploaded on November 3, 2006 by slack12
  42. 52. Wikipedia <ul><li>Search for “Migrant Mother” links directly to a page dedicated to the photograph </li></ul><ul><li>Includes the iconic photo and others Lange photos of the same subject </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Quality of the images not so great, soft and gauzy </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Text in Wikipedia not scholarly, or at least it is difficult to know when it is or isn’t </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Lack of academic checks and balances (peer review) </li></ul></ul>Dorothea Lange. Migrant Mother, 1936. Located at Wikipedia’s entry “Migrant Mother:”
  43. 53. Dorothea Lange. Migrant Mother, 1936. Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, [LC-DIG-fsa-8b29516] Dorothea Lange. Migrant Mother, 1936. Located at Wikipedia’s entry “Migrant Mother:” http:// LC vs. Wikipedia
  44. 55. Young Turks <ul><li>Google, Flickr, & Wikipedia </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Enables access to more content than possibly imaginable </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Gives the user greater control in creating and organizing content </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Newer, more innovative uses of technology </li></ul></ul>
  45. 56. Advantage - Library of Congress <ul><li>WHY? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Searching LC can be difficult and less immediate, but it is worth the effort </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Reliability: LC is a scholarly source for online imagery – cannot say the same about Google & Flickr </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>It’s the largest library in the world and it’s publicly funded, we pay for it… use it! </li></ul></ul>Don't let pretty labels on cans mislead you. Photo by Ann Rosener, 1942. Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, FSA – OWI Collection, [LC-USE6-D-003435]
  46. 57. Who Owns This Image? We do! &quot;Power house mechanic working on steam pump&quot; By Lewis Hine, 1920. National Archives and Records Administration, Records of the Work Projects Administration (69-RH-4L-2) Same image from
  47. 58. Questions? <ul><li>Ask me! </li></ul><ul><li>Ian McDermott </li></ul><ul><li>Kress Fellow, Arts Library </li></ul><ul><li>[email_address] </li></ul><ul><li>203.432.2641 </li></ul>