Friday, May 01, 2009

Shouldn't White House Flickr Photos be public domain?

Good question. EFF ponders the licensing of the new Official Whitehouse Flickr Photostream.

So we did a little investigation. As it happens, there is a kind of public domain option on Flickr. Photos in the Flickr streams of other public institution such as the Smithsonian and the Library of Congress are accompanied by text that reads "No known copyright restrictions," with a link to apage explaining that the photo is either public domain or is owned by an institution that is not exercising control over the image.

The White House should reconsider its licensing approach, and work with Flickr to flag these government works in the same way. This Administration is pioneering the use of the Internet to reach out to citizens — and part of the precedent it should set is a clear recognition that publicly funded government works should be free to the public, without the burden of copyright and licensing restrictions.