Can someone claim copyright of a hi-def version of a public domain image?
I want to use images produced by the U. S. government and therefore in the public domain. They were digitized by a contractor that, IMO, often did a very bad job. Many of the images on the Library of Congress site (loc.gov) are lo-def, but hi-def versions exist. I found one hi-def I want to use at Corbis, which says it is "rights managed." But they often say that for images that are clearly in the public domain. I don't know how Corbis has a hi-def version when the only version available at loc.gov is lo-def.
However Corbis got their hi-def image, does the fact that it is a photo taken by a U. S. govt employee as part of their official duties mean that the hi-def version is just as much in the public domain as the lo-def version?
Corbis is claiming they have the rights and so you have to decide whether you want to ignore that and have them possibly take action against you --
IMHO for use on a hub the low def is sufficient
I don't see how anyone or any company can claim rights for any reason to a government photo.
By definition, those images "taken by a government employee as part of their duties" are in the public domain by default.
I don't see how any company can claim rights that have not been specifically granted to them by the government agency in question.
They chose to clean up the images on their own; that does not mean they own the image, IMO.
I'm not a lawyer, but that just seems sensible to me, and if they do or can claim such, it sure doesn't seem right or fair...
Corbis sees it differently, and fair use exception can only be definitely settled in court. They are an affirmative defense not a safe harbor.
To avoid any trouble, I would simply take the original public domain image and manipulate it myself instead of taking the work someone else has done on the image. Obviously you think that the hi def adds value.
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