Imagery and allied axes:
Grazing rights in the public domain

* Public domain imagery from the 1911 Webster's New International Dictionary of the English Language. As long as copyright laws don't change too fast, this stuff should remain in the public domain.

Various student projects involving public domain imagery at Slippery Rock University.

Discussions of legality and images --

The Office of the General Counsel at the Catholic University of America maintains this useful and informative site:

Are there legal liabilities associated with using public domain material? See the disclaimer (I'm hoping for permission to reuse here) that accompanies any of the files offered by Project Gutenberg should you think it's all easy.

The CNI-copyright discussion list -- as of August 2002 there are nearly five thousand articles at this searchable site discussing legal issues surrounding the public domain.

Legality of thumbnails? -- some discussion of a December 1999 court case concerning the making of thumbnails of others' images.

Pictures of pictures -- if I digitize an old (public domain) photo, can I claim copyright on my work?

How to Use Images Legally a book by that name from


Photographing the [constructed] environment I noticed recently that a toy car "belonging" to my son (manufactured by a major toy manufacturer) comes with the note "Copyright Chrysler Corporation" on the bottom. Coupling this with the exclusive rights of the copyright holder (See U.S. code Title 17), you'd best make sure there are no toys around before taking snapshots of the kids.

References on "Intellectual Property" -- an oxymoron?

A collection of resources

Copyright  (from academic dishonesty to felony)

Trademark U.S. Code: Title 15 Chapter 22  and the basics

Patent (see General Information concerning patents from USPTO)

Trade Secret

Professional Development Day, Spring 2005

Policies, Rules, Laws, Principles, Aphorisms, Legalities, Morals?

Some digital galleries and so forth (having curiously variant degrees of public-ness in domain)

Note: just because someone says it is public domain does not mean it really is. Ultimate responsibility for verification of copyright status rests, finally, with the copier. Read the copyright notices accompanying these carefully; cite sources; be careful about taking someone's word for the legal status of an image. See also Lorrie A. Knight's Locating Public Domain Images from the American Library Association's C&RL NewsNet, which contains many additional links.

Portrait Gallery Lots of nice engravings and photos of famous old people -- "A selection of portraits of historical figures from the Perry-Castaņeda Library, University of Texas at Austin. The images in this collection are in the public domain. You do not need to ask for permission to use these images." -- from the description at UTexas

NOAA's Photo Site As a part of the US Government, most of this work is not copyrighted.

NASA's Photo Gallery   "The photo archive at has more than 15,000 images consisting of over 1Gb of data. The goal is to make this archive a resource for collage and photo-montage using digital image editing... .The images found in this archive come from three main sources: the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS)..." -- from the description at the site.

links to public domain art A lengthy list with some links to legal material as well"Free Public Domain Images to View, Copy or Download" from a site called

* Public domain imagery from the 1911 Webster's New International Dictionary of the English Language. As long as copyright laws don't change too fast, this stuff should remain in the public domain.

Various student projects involving public domain imagery at Slippery Rock University. virtue of age, much of this has entered public domain -- though the presenters may not agree. It rather depends on how much originality must be added to a public domain work in order for it to acquire a new copyright. [See Bridgeman v Corel, 1999, a reference]

Images from the Australian National Library Some are still "under" copyright Some very nice backgrounds, roofs, walls, doorknobs, spice, rocks, antiquities, etc. See comments on copyright and use under section on "legal" -- Web Museum, Paris. Nicolas Pioch who helped to develop the site also accumulated a wonderful list of legal disclaimers .

A clipart site

Aquarian Gallery -- antique prints and maps. These folks sell original engravings and prints, including numerous interesting portraits. -- a searchable site which redistributes thumbnail images found on the web.  See here for some discussion of a court case concerning their use of thumbnails.

Images -- from the Constitution Society - a private non-profit organization dedicated to research and public education on the principles of constitutional republican government. (They cite the Bridgeman v Corel case which, in the context provided, would tend to imply an acceptance of its outcome.)

A list of "image databases" on the internet -- be sure to read all the odd copyright notices"


Date: Mon, 08 Mar 1999 11:24:48 -0500
From: Suzanne Ogden-Roberts robertso@BIGVAX.ALFRED.EDU
Reply-To: Visual Resources Association VRA-L@UAFSYSB.UARK.EDU
Subject: Image databases on the internet-list Mary Ann Sullivan of Bluffton College: Digital Imaging Project: Art historical images of European and North American architecture and sculpture from classical Greek to Post-modern from Harvard's John Singer Sargent collection The New York Public Library's Digital Imaging Project. Most of the images seem to be beyond legal protection by virtue of expiration of copyright, though NYPL seems to think they own them. Library of Congress American Memory Project Institute -- lots of pictures here and there; their copyright notice is interesting of the Smithsonian Institute's photo collections -- most seem pretty current of California, Berkeley -- ARCHITECTURE SLIDE LIBRARY Arts Museums of San Francisco -- art Imagebase

Two noteworthy public domain projects:

Project Gutenberg at

Eric Eldred is one of the primary folks bringing the US Congress to task for failing to recognize Constitutional limitations on copyright law . The Attorney General's office disagrees (here's their brief -- Acrobat reader needed).

A collection of links to e-text resources:

The Online Books Page from Penn State

Presented for discussion by David Dailey. See copyright notice.