Thu Blog Meet

Tucson Writer’s Thursday Blogging Meet: Public Domain Images


We meet Thursdays at the Murphy-Wilmot Library. Two people showed up with very different needs.


On Copyright-free, Public Domain and copyright in general

At the meeting, we talked a bit about copyright-free images.  Like myself, she already uses  I also told her about:

  • Wikimedia – sister site to Wikipedia.  Very good about saying how they got the picture and under what copyright rule, it is copyright free
  • National Archives – photographs taken under the government’s aegis like the WPA project is in the public domain because we the taxpayers have paid for them. However some agencies like the FSA or OWI occasionally obtained photographs from other sources.  In those cases, the copyright still belongs tot he original source and not the government — so those would not be in the public domain. The record should report if the copyright does not belong to the government.
  • National Parks – same deal, public domain because taxpayers paid for them unless obtained from other sources.
  • Pixabay — while some people take advantage of public domain pictures by reposting them (look at the number of photos the person has posted, if it’s in the thousands, it’s probably not all taken by them or if the variety is very scattered), they also have avid photography enthusiasts posting their own pictures.  I have found images from Unsplash here that were obviously mixed in with images from other sources in a couple accounts. I look for people whose images revisit the same themes or are stylistically similar to each other.  With Pixabay’s coffee button, you can reward image creators although you don’t have to.

At home afterwards, I remembered another governmental one worth mentioning is the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Reading Room.  Not every image is copyright free but the information listed on the image will say whether it is in the public domain or “No known restrictions on publication.  No copyright renewal in Copyright office”.  The latter is important because copyrights expire unless they are renewed.  The LOC also in their records shows the copyright holder if there is one and the contact information if known.

Works created before 1923 are public domain and other general copyright rules

These next bits are from the LOC site:

Works created after January 1, 1978 are protected for the creator’s lifetime plus 70 years unless the copyright gets renewed. A renewal extends the copyright.

Prior to that, the Copyright Act of 1976 stated that works registered for copyright or published with a copyright notice were protected for 75 years maximum if copyright was renewed.  Initial copyright was 28 years but could be renewed for an additional 47 years.  In 1998, that was changed to 95 years: initial for 28 with a renewal for an additional 67 years.  The law also explicity said all works before 1923 are in the public domain.  The countdown of the current year minus 95 years for public domain will recommence in 2018 for pre1978 works.

Works with a copyright notice or copyright registration published between 1964-1977 are copyrighted for 95 years.

1978 and there after is creator’s lifetime plus 70 years plus renewals with or without the copyright notice.

The government made this handy-dandy brochure on Copyright basics.

Something good to know for recipes and indexes:  Listings of ingredients or contents is not protected by copyright.  However, describing how to cook something can be copyrighted. The description of cooking steps can be unique and therefore copyrighted — 1T Sugar is not unique but describing how to use the 1T sugar can be unique and therefore copyrightable.

Work for hire is different.  The work does not belong to the creator but to the employer. Also copyright can be transferred but the creator can get the copyright back after 35 years as long as the correct paperwork is filed within the times specified on the paperwork and regulations.  So if you need to find the right copyright holder, it can get tricky.

Bee and Vaccines & Bayonets

Bee has written a manuscript: Vaccines & Bayonets about living and traveling throughout Africa fighting small pox.  She is currently looking for a publisher and already has a blog established for about two months on her website: Vaccines & Bayonets.  Follow her blog and facebook to keep up-to-date on what is happening on her book. She would like her blog to go viral because publishers will publish books from blogs with thousands of followers — proving there is an interest already in the book.  So her focus is increasing her blog readership.

I suggested to her that she might write a couple articles on Africa/Small Pox and the events in her book for  A lot of big writers write for the site and it’s a great site for nonfiction articles. Some of the writers write less than monthly so it’s more of an article collection site than a blog but you can garner followers and articles can go viral if you end up being a Medium pick of the day.

Medium promotes articulate, intelligent writing by sending out email lists to subscribers of interesting articles they might want to read. One problem though is that Medium does prefer exclusive content but it doesn’t have to be.  I cross-post my Cactus Haiku posts with the medium plugin.  It’s automatic when I publish the post that a copy is published there as well.

This is a sampling of what they suggested for me a couple days ago: The Anxious Archaeologist, Hurricane Maria May Be a Preview of Climate-Fueled Migration in America, Ghosts of Artists are Alive and Well inside Paintings, and Even This Data Guru Is Creeped Out By What Anonymous Location Data Reveals About Us.  Obviously it’s not your typical “5 ways to get rich quick in bullet points” site.  Don’t get me wrong.  I love those sites. Medium is like a huge library with a goldmine of articles for people who actually like to read, lol.

After the meeting, there are a couple of links I wanted to share with her.  I happen to love researching.  One is: African Books Collective because of two statements on their page: “What kind of publishers does ABC represent? 154 independent publishers, including university presses, research institutes, NGOs, and commercial publishers, large and small, women and men. They come from 24 African countries, publishing with a focus on African issues and cultural and literary heritage” and “Is ABC a publisher? No, ABC is not a publisher. If you are an author we are happy to suggest African publishers who might be interested in hearing from you, but have no influence over their publishing decisions.”

The other link is: Stanford Libraries links on Publishers publishing about Africa South of the Sahara.  It’s a long list and while some publishers focus on books by Africans or are have offices in other countries, there are a few in the USA.  Hopefully one of these two links might help. I should look for a link on University Presses who have as one of their focus anthropology and/or medical studies or a listing of the categories they like to print.  I know from my own reading, while a lot of memoirs at University Presses are by scholars or academicians, not all of them were.  Unfortunately, I realized after I didn’t collect contact info so have no way of leaving a message on the links.  Oh well. At any rate, I wish her luck in finding a publisher.

J starts a new blog:

J, the other attendee wanted to start a blog.  So, using and the Pima County Public Library’s free wifi, she started her first blog, named the blog, wrote a little bit, saved the draft, added a photo from her hard drive and published her first post.  When she saved the draft, she reopened the draft on her cell phone so she could add a photo from her phone.  We actually ended up deleting the image from the phone to use the hard drive one but it was good practice.  So she is now also able to post from her phone as well.  She learned a lot for her first time!

Me too!  I never posted a post from my phone as I prefer the bigger screen of my laptop, so I had to look at her phone, at the tiny little icons, to help her find her draft and bring her photo in.  I still prefer my laptop but it’s a lot easier to post from a phone than I thought it would be — as long as you don’t have to type!  Those tiny little keys kill me.

J isn’t ready to share her blog yet.  When she is, I’ll let you know!


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