Not all is bad in the web 2.0 world. Take this new initiative by giant hosting site Flickr. It has posted a part of the huge Library of Congress collection to get some help in key wording for future generation to enjoy. It even has created a new copyright/license for it called “no known copyright restrictions” : “[That does] not mean the image is in the public domain, but do indicate that no evidence has been found to show that restrictions apply.”
The Library of Congress, if you are not aware, is a huge repository of documents related to the history of the United States of America and thus, partly, the world. Most of its content has been donated in a deliberate act to make it accessible and available to the public. Unlike a commercial photo agency, the Library of Congress is not in the business of licensing its content for a fee in order to make some profit but to allow anyone with any curiosity to learn from its document. for free. This project of asking for anyones help to tag, or keyword the images is a great idea, “awesome” some would say, that will allow to share knowledges on line.
I do apprehend already some photo agencies, mostly outside the USA, downloading some of these images and making them available to their clients via a “research” or “service” fee, like they currently do with NASA images or images released by movie studios. Since there is no apparent copyright owners and these images are old, chances of being found and sued by copyright owners are slim to none, they will think.
By making this project as public as possible and by educating the as many as possible, we can put a damper on those who give our industry a bad name. Now, go and tag !
UPDATE :Just what I feared, Apparently Rohn Engh does want you to take those images and sell them according to his entry in Black Star Rising. I guess that is the new good advice for photographers : if your images do not sell, steal some public domain and resell them. Treat your clients like idiots and charge them for images they could have found themselves.