Bestiary Images & Copyright

medieval image of witch and animal

I’m going to be doing a presentation before too long where I look at blogging and web 2.0 through the lens of a Medieval bestiary. I thought this was a solid concept in part because I figured none of the images would be under copyright since they’d have long since passed into public domain.

crazy bat looking thing

What I found on a number of different sites did not reflect that. Many of the .edu sites that had quality bestiary images also had pretty restrictive copyright claims as well.

This didn’t make sense to me and so I started digging around and found a number of well referenced claims that said, essentially, that scans of public domain works are not derivatives and so are not under separate copyright. The case repeatedly cited was Bridgeman v. Corel. I’m not a lawyer and am not giving you legal advice but you can read one lawyer’s take on all this at the Library Law Blog (Mary Minow, J.D., A.M.L.S.). She’s got a lot more nuance in her post so if you’re nervous I’d read it and make your own decision but I feel good about what I’m doing.

I’m cleaning up the images and posting them to Flickr if you think they’d be of use to you. The majority are pngs with transparent backgrounds (some of which still need some work).

bestiary image

One thought on “Bestiary Images & Copyright

  1. Wow, this looks great, the images are so full of possibilities, I am dying to see the presentation writ large. As to the copyright issues, how fascinating, universities claiming ownership when this may not be the case.It makes sense that if you scan something in the public domain and then and publish it on the open web that it is fair game. If it is a matter of them protecting their scans then they should not make it broadly available. Thanks for putting them on Flickr, I will be stealing this idea shamelessly 🙂

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