Tuesday, March 13, 2007


Another question that has been puzzling me recently --- where do all of the digital Civil War pictures come from? I know of the online collection at the Library of Congress, but that doesn't seem to account for all of those that I see online.

Is there a copyright issue similar to printed works? Some that I see are attributed, generally to the Library of Congress. Many, however, aren't. The numerous Wikipedia articles, particularly the biographies, come to mind. Is it as simple as a right-click, copy and paste? This doesn't seem right. Or are some folks simply not doing the right thing?


Brian Downey said...

There are thousands of sources for Civil War era photographs and illustrations online. Between collections like the LoC, US Army, college libraries, museums, individual heirlooms and digitized books, there is a nearly unlimited supply.

If you'd like pointers to a specific source, post again - there are lots of experts out there (here?)!

Copyright? There's a good guide to US law in 'copyright basics' from copyright.gov

Short answer: if it was published before about 1920, it's public domain. A photo or illustration from 1861-65 certainly falls into that category (so does text). Yours for the taking. If more recent than that, copyright law applies, but so does the doctrine of fair use.

FWIW, I ranted about copyright on my blog last year.

Don said...

Thanks for the comment, Brian. What you said confirms what I was thinking, more or less. I'll be sure to check out the rant this evening.