When we first started this blog, we had a small problem. We didn’t have any photographs. Dow Jones Newswires is, as the name implies, a wire service (that’s been around since the 1880s) and we never had any use for photographs. So we didn’t have contracts with the big photography houses, Getty, Corbis, the AP.
Sure, we could’ve just taken our images off the Internet, like so many others do, but seeing as we work for a for-profit company that cares about things like copyright law, the idea of stealing somebody else’s copyrighted was out.
Now, plenty of blogs don’t have any artwork, and it seemed like we wouldn’t either. And then I remembered the public domain.
There exists millions of images in the public domain, photographs that either reside in public collections or for which the copyright expired. And the best collection, the richest, turns out to be owned by, well, us: the Library of Congress has an online database of about 1.2 million images, with photographs going back to the very birth of photography. And they have specialized sites that comprise specific topics, like the Great Depression.
That last, given everything going on today, struck a nerve with us. We started going to that collection constantly, and it just seemed like every time we wanted an image to illustrate whatever subject we were writing about, we could find one there.