Historical Reminiscents EP 23: Pretty Images With No Strings Attached

Photographs and envelopes on a table. Right side reads "Episode 23: Pretty Images With No Strings Attached"

Images have the power to act as click-bait – photographs can illustrate blog posts, make your professional website more attractive, and help illuminate a historical topic.  In this episode I discuss using creative commons and public domain images as part of your online presence.  I breakdown the types of image licenses and mention some of my favourite places for finding photographs.

I would love to hear about where folks find public domain and creative commons images, leave a comment or send me a message on Twitter.

Mentioned in this episode:
Creative Commons Summary
Europeana Collections
The Met open access policy
Library and Archives Canada on Flickr 
SFU Library guide to finding and using online images

Download or listen now.

GLAM Organizations and Wikimedia Commons

mediaWikimedia Commons is a repository for free and sharable media content.  It is mostly commonly used for photographs but can also be used for video and audio recordings. The aim of Wikimedia Commons is to develop a resource of media that can be used for educational purposes that is open and freely accessible to all.

GLAM (Galleries, Libraries, Archives, and Museums) around the world have chosen to contribute to Wikimedia Commons.  GLAM organizations often have public domain content in their holdings and uploading that content to Wikimedia commons is one way to make content more accessible.  The content can then also be linked to existing Wikipedia articles and enhance online knowledge of heritage collections.

For example, the Brooklyn Museum announced a project to” cross-post images of its collection to Wikimedia Commons and Internet Archive.” The museum planned to upload “5,157 primary object images and 4,354 Library & Archives images”.  The Brooklyn Museum is just one of many GLAM organizations around the world choosing to share their holdings in this way.

There is a decent FAQ page for GLAM users looking to upload content to Wikimedia commons that answers some of the common questions around image rights and the type of material that can be uploaded.  There is also a great checklist for organizations thinking about starting to upload their own material.  In may cases it may be possible to streamline the importing process if you’re looking to upload batches of images.

On the other side of the coin for GLAM professionals putting together presentations or editing existing Wikipedia content the Commons can be a great resource for visual material.

What have been your experiences using Wikipedia Commons as a GLAM or private user?

Public Domain Day 2012

Hurray for access! January 1st was Public Domain Day.  On that day, unpublished works by authors who died prior to 1942 became part of the public domain in the United States. This includes works by notable authors such as:
 A more complete list can be seen here.  Lists of authors whose works entered the public domain in 2011 or 2010 are also available.
However there are some conditions around the entrance of works into the public domain.  This legislation only applies to works which have not been previously published and which were not made during parts of employment.  Separate copyright legislation applies to those works.   

Cheap Books on Demand

I have been in favour of the Google Books project for some time, mainly because the project allows for greater accessibility of scholarship. This past week Google announced a new facet to Google Books. Now, more than 2 million books, which are currently featured on Google Books, can be turned into “instant paperbacks.”

Google has signed an agreement with On Demand Books, the owner of The Espresso Book Machine. The Espresso Book Machine (EBM) can print and bind a book in the same amount of time it takes to brew an espresso. Espresso book machines are currently located in bookstores in the US, Australia, Britain, Egypt and Canada. The Canadian EBMs are currently only a few in University bookstores. This is great for the impoverished student, but somewhat limits the audience which the EBM currently reaches.

This agreement allows for one of the complaints of many Google Books users to be addressed: many people simply do not enjoy reading a 300 page book online. A retail price has not been set for these instant paperbacks, but estimates have been around the eight dollar mark. Overall it sounds like a cost effective way to make public domain books available. That being said, various governments, privacy groups, Amazon and Microsoft have already filed objections to this new agreement.

Mapping and Privacy Concerns

I recently wrote on the trade off between convenience and privacy, this issue came to my attention once again while exploring virtual mapping. Most people have used Google earth or Google maps at one point or another. These applications are largely accepted by the general public as tools which make our lives easier. Google recently released the Google Street View application to the United Kingdom. Some controversy has been raised over the appropriateness of showing potentially private images from the street level. The majority of those opposing the application believe that street level pictures violate privacy and that these images are being used without the consent of numerous people. These privacy concerns are particularly valid for those people who have been caught partially nude, entering adult video stores, or doing any activity they may not want the entire world to know about.

Since the launch of UK Street View Google has had hundreds of requests for the removal of images. Earlier Google representatives insisted that “99.99 per cent” of faces featured in Street View were blurred. However, recently Google admitted that this had been a “figure of speech” and that thousands of people can be identified. Google claims that Street View is an important step towards people being able to explore the world from their homes, but has this application crossed line in terms of privacy violations?

Currently Google Street View is not available for any Canadian cities. Tighter restrictions have been placed on the construction of a Canadian application, which include the blurring of all faces, license plates, and numerous other privacy measures.

Despite the controversy surrounding Google Street View in Canada, Canpages.ca a company based in British Columbia has recently released it’s own street view program. The program currently includes views of Whistler, Vancouver, and Squamish. Canpages street view allows users to explore residential areas, walking paths, parks, and trails. It also offers detailed pages for retailers in the area, and hopes to expand its views into the interiors of hotels, malls, and restaurants. However, Canpages is also taking additional incentives such as blurring distinctive features to help maintain privacy amongst Canadians.