Open source imagery

Beggar’s dog – Hoboken (LOC)

I usually cover copyright issues of a different nature; ones regarding audio. But as a keen photographer and designer I love images, and know how hard it is, or was, to find open source images. One big addition to this is Flickr Commons Рseveral big museums and collections have gotten together with Flickr to share imagery that has no copyright, old photographs or has governmental uses like the legendary FSA and wartime images. The collections are good Рfrom Smithsonian who started this, to Library of Congress, George Eastman House, Biblioth̬que de Toulouse and so on.

Sadly I’m surprised (although not shocked having dealt with these organisations via John) that there are no British museums or collections yet taking part. Certainly governmental ‘public’ works has a different stance here – Crown copyright vs the US model where if public money is used it rightly stays in public domain – and a non-sharing approach with British galleries and museums means yet again America and Europe lead the way in copyright advances and public amenity. Sigh. I hope that changes – because I know the likes of the V&A, British Museum, British Library, The Hulton/Picture Post archive and the Tates have amazing treasures to share.

Will we ever be allowed to, though?

Paris Exposition: ship, Paris, France, 1900


  1. Hello! I work at Flickr, specifically running The Commons program…

    Just a quick fact check – The Commons launched back in January in partnership with The Library of Congress, not the Smithsonian. The Smithsonian joined at the end of June. And, rest assured there are UK museums on their way 🙂

  2. Hey Tim! I’ll keep my fingers crossed for the Tates and the British Museum and other places to open their images up in this manner one day soon. I think the Hulton archive has licensed its image library for sale though, and probably won’t want to play along. But thanks for letting us know about this, it’s a wonderful resource. Plus it’s just cool to browse through — I can’t tell you how many CD cover ideas I had while idly looking.


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