Almost three months ago, over six thousand images from the Smithsonian Museum were put on Flickr (tagged “Probably Public Domain”) and archived online. The images are incredible, ranging from the bombing of Pearl Harbor to oodles of gorgeous guns and illicit weaponry, to stunning marine wildlife, turn of the century Native Americans and much, much more. The renegade act of putting them online by public.resource.org was to point out, in the words of head Carl Malamud “the Smithsonian’s unnecessary restrictions on use of the images and dubious claims of its ownership of them.” The question really was, who owns the images in “America’s museum”? NPR reported on the story.
In an email two days ago the the IP mailing list, Malamud announces the purchase of even more images (hi-res cyanotype scans), and he has exciting news about changes in the Smithsonian’s copyright policies on the horizon. Snip:
> I'm pleased to report that the curator in the history of > photography collection at the Smithsonian has approved my > most recent purchase of hi-res scans. I stated that the > purpose of my purchase was "upload to the Internet." I > also noticed the copyright strings embedded in the images > have been modified to reflect the new policy. > > Here's a pointer to a Flickr set with the images and our > bulk download site: > > http://www.flickr.com/photos/publicresourceorg/sets/72157601200446023/ > http://bulk.resource.org/si.edu/ > > In a related develoment, I received a very nice email from > Acting Secretary Samper, and another note from Ann Speyer, > the Institution's CIO. The Smithsonian has formed a > pan-Institution task force to re-examine copyright policies, > and my understanding from Ms. Speyer is that members of > the public will be invited to give input this fall. > > The Smithsonian Institution should be congratulated on > both these steps! > > Best regards, > > Carl