Thursday, January 22, 2009

The failure that is copyright

Copyright as it is currently practiced is a failure. It is not even handed and it prevents our use of much historic material. A good example is this picture of Aletta Jacobs. It can be found in the archive of the Library of Congress, they make it available in a high quality tiff file. It mentions a photographer, a F. Julius Oppenheim, and nobody knows anything about the man.

Aletta Jacobs died in 1929. As it is possible that this image is still under copyright, this picture will not be accepted in Commons. The biography of Dr Jacobs was published in 1924, clearly no longer under copyright, and it is published on the Internet under copyright by the "Digitale bibliotheek voor de Nederlandse Letteren" (dbnl). The problem is that they have the audacity to claim copyright. They claim copyright on everything they publish including work from the Middle Ages.

Copyright is a failure because important material like this picture of Aletta Jacobs are lost to us while people effectively steal the rights to her works by being bold. The dbnl does great work by making literature available on the Internet, they lose their goodwill by taking what is not theirs to take.

I found this image in the archive of the library of Congress, Durova restored it for me as a favour. I am disappointed that such unclear copyright prevents her work from making a difference.

PS this picture is a PNG.
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