letter to Joerg Colberg,
because he is,
among other things,
Here's a copy of a comment on kottke.org, in regard to a link to an egregious scam site called "shorpy".
I've been spelinking in the directories of the LoC for years. What this guy's doing is creepy, and lame as all get out.
I'm dumping the whole thing your way because it is most definitely a photography-related issue, and because of your prominent, and well-deserved, position as node-facilitator for things photographic online. Also because I'm real frustrated about it and don't have any other forums for that except kottke's own comment thread which I haven't much faith in.
letter to kottke, which ended up in his comment thread because he hasn't replied to an email, yet:
(roy belmont is a nom-de-vieux)
That site, shorpy, that you linked to is pulling photos out of the Library of Congress online catalogs and rebranding them as if they were privately owned, without any attribution. They aren't owned by whoever's running that site, except in the sense that they're owned by all of us, through the agency of the LoC.
Every other image I saw there is right out of the parent directories of the LoC's Prints and Photographs Division's Online Catalog, yet it's never mentioned once.
I wonder why?
Maybe because the site owner's an asshole, not to mention greedy, if not treacherously opportunistic.
I've been throwing images from the LoC up online here and there for 4 or 5 years now, but always with attribution and/or direct links, or the expectation that constant readers will know by the image url from whence they come.
The difference is huge and important - right up there with right and wrong and other binary human distinctions.
The danger is the LoC will draw up its wonderful bridges, and a great public resource be withdrawn behind some kind of pay-wall.
Co-opting the public domain is the worst form of theft there is.
I'm sure you were unaware of this when you posted the link, but you're in a good position to do the right thing about it, now that you know.