Back in May 2007, there was a sudden spike in interest around the “outing” of over 6,000 images from Smithsonian Images by a body calling itself public.resource.org. Essentially, they consider the images to be largely public domain, and therefore did something about it, scraping them from the Smithsonian Images site, embedding some metadata and then uploading the lot to Flickr. Read more about what and how here.
The second phase of their approach is also interesting: they have now started buying non-watermarked hi-res versions of the images and filled in “upload to the Internet” as the “intended use” section of the copyright form. So far, no-one at the Smithsonian seems to have noticed (or more likely simply don’t have the means to deal with this approach); as BoingBoing reports, four more images have just been added.
Carl Malamud from public.resource.org also said:
“…in a related development, I got email from the Acting Secretary and another one from the Chief Information Officer. The Smithsonian has formed a pan-Institutional task force to re-examine their copyright policies and they’ll be taking comment from members of the public this fall...“
Another interesting and evolving story to add to the ever-developing copyright/drm/watermark/rights discussion…