With over 13 million photographs belonging to its collection, The Library Of Congress is one of the most extensive anthologies of images in the world. Many of the royalty free photos in the collection are old, bygone relics from times long ago passed that have been, for the most part, forgotten about. That is until an inventive director and designer by the name Kevin Weir had the notion to take some of the black and white images and breathe new life into them by turning them into some awesome, albiet a little creepy, GIF animations for a project he’s dubbed, The Flux Machine.
When a team of professors, employees, student’s and alumni of Yale University decided to tackle the massive collection of depression era photographs created as a special project by the The Farm Security Administration—Office of War Information (FSA-OWI) between the years of 1935-1946, they knew they were embarking on a massive undertaking. The collection, which have been meticulously curated and cared for by the Library of Congress and the FSA-OWI, contained a whopping 170,000 images, all of which would needed to be sorted and re-cataloged into Photogrammar, the new interactive map/website designed by Yale.
As a means of documenting the time during The United State’s Great Depression and to instill trust in the citizens of the governments new programs designed to provide aid and relief to the poorest 1/3 of American farmers, the FSA-OWI began working with photographers all over the country to grow a collection of images. The great Dorothea Lange, Walker Evans, and Arthur Rothstein were among some of the photographers involved with the project. [Read more…]
Two weeks ago, the story of the selfie-taking monkey gave me what I had thought was the best article title I was ever going to get to right. I was wrong. This is the best article title that I’ve ever gotten to write.
For those who missed it, around the beginning of this month Wikipedia was caught in a bit of controversy for its ruling on photographs taken by a monkey with photographer David Slater’s camera, saying that Slater had no copyright to them since he wasn’t their photographer. In a update to the story equally as bizarre as the story itself, the US Copyright Office released a 1,222-page document establishing new policies and reaffirming existent stances set on copyright law; touching on the subject at hand, the Office basically said that a picture taken by a monkey is unclaimed intellectual property.
A few months ago, a friend of mine was scrolling through a photography website when he saw something that made him jump out of his chair. There on the screen was a photo of his 6-year-old daughter– sitting on the grass under a stunning summer sky in her beautiful pink dress, having a tea party with her stuffed animals and three kittens. There were several problems with the photo. As I’m sure you’ve figured out by now, my friend had not taken or posted this particular photo of his daughter. In his original photo, the sky was overcast, the dress was yellow, and his daughter– who is actually dangerously allergic to cats– was enjoying a quiet moment alone. More importantly, however, the person who created this composite had never asked for permission to use the original. Needless to say, my friend was more than a little pissed off and immediately set to the task of tracking down the photographer and “politely asking” that the image be taken down immediately. It took a while, but the photographer eventually complied.
The two pictures above were taken by British nature photographer David Slater in 2011, when a black macaque walked over to him and hijacked his camera, proceeding to take numerous amounts of selfies. With the pictures going viral, they found themselves on Wikimedia’s Commons page, where they’ve been available as public domain. The problem? When David Slater requested the pictures be taken down, Wikimedia refused – the reason being that because it was the animal pressing the shutter, the photo didn’t actually belong to him.
It’s safe to say that Wikimedia might be going a bit bananas (I’m sorry.) here, because what they’re basically saying is that since the monkey took the picture, it owns the copyright.
UPDATE: the chart was wrong in in more than one way, we took it down. You can still see the original link in the article, but I do not suggest following its advice, you can read more about it here.
There is a lot of confusion surrounding copyright law and when it’s okay or not okay to use photographs that are not your own. Fortunately, Curtis Newbold, AKA The Visual Communications Guy, created this handy flowchart to help you assess when, why, and where you can use certain photographs. If you find yourself frequently questioning the legality (or morality) of resharing an awesome photo you came across on the internet, you may want to bookmark the chart for quick access.
The flowchart (click here for a big version) makes it easy to understand the differences between Copyright, Fair Use, Creative Commons, and Public Domain–four topics which are often the source of great confusion. On the flipside of things, the chart may also be useful to photographers who wonder about their own photographs and the purposed in which others may redistribute them.