Personal Pet Peeve

" So called Public Domain images "

More accurately said, my dire distress over what people often call public domain, that isn't !

I'm a pixel artist and use a great many images in my work.
Believe me, I hunt high and low for works I can legally use.
Which brings me up against repeatedly, the common mis-use of the words
public domain. I see on the web over and over .. so called
" public domain " images that are NOT in the public domain.

For Example : I saw one the other day where the gent did all the proper forms
" I so and so release these works into the public domain ya da ya da "...
then proceeded to tell everybody what they could DO with the work in question.

This shows a clear misunderstanding of the term. Public domain means
you can do with it whatever you want to do with it. Period.
Any real restrictions means it's NOT public domain.
By releasing it to the public domain ...  you no longer hold any rights on the work at all.

A lot of my spacey looking work contains real images of space,
most of them from NASA. Most any government based work is in the public domain by default.

Our tax dollars paid for whatever imagery they took, therefore it's ours !
With some exceptions. Most anything that is over 75 years old is public domain.
Or published before a given date, Which means most classical works.
I use a great many marble works and such like for that reason.

Now there are many public domain works of recent origin
that have been released to the public on purpose, for which I am very grateful
I have done so with some works myself. 

Little things that I created that are my gifts to the world at large
and will do so again, as payment in kind for the gifts other artists have made for me

Now lot of my stuff is link ware, like my web sets...
All of them are made from images I created or I am sure,
as much as it's possible to be sure, are in the public domain.

Most of the backgrounds in my background section are/were public domain
released by their holders long ago. Most of the bars I use are student works,
released to the public domain. It's why you see them everywhere.

I took that one step further in a lot of cases and improved on the originals.
But most of them are still PD. I do not attempt to hold on to them.

Unless I make something customized with them, in which case it becomes mine.

My art on the other hand is another matter, which brings me back to the point.
Any image manipulation artist runs a gauntlet at all times
with what is and is not, in the public domain.

And I see flagrant violations of that daily..
which I find rather irritating, because I know that the images used
belong to another artist. Most of the time I can even tell you what their names are !
As whomever has taken them have not even made an attempt to change them but uses them
just as the original artist made them.

As an artist, I of course, study the works of other artist's, as any good art student does.
Because of this, I once was accused of ripping off a well known artists work
because one of my works resembles one very well known, according to them. 

I told the writer thank you that you think it's that good,
but I would not even consider ripping off my favorite artists work..
but I will try like hell to emulate them :) and apparently I succeeded.

As a web designer, this gets even worse...
As I tear the web apart looking for this little bit or that
that will make the site sing. That I can legitimately offer my client to use.

It's not easy, mainly because
just plugging in the words " public domain " whatever image name,
is fraught with potholes of sites who do not understand , or worse don't care,
who have gathered a massive collection of stuff that they have no idea where they came from
and park the words " public domain " on them.

I have told more than a few of such sites, that such and such a work belongs to so and so,
As I recognize the work of other artists. And most of them tell me
go jump in the lake. As those collections bring them massive amounts of traffic
and they are not about to give that up. 

Most such places are loaded with ads,
which, one presumes, make them money. In fact it's a dead give away if they have
a massive " collection " of supposed " public domain " images and have ad after ad
on every page and it's the only content they have. Run.... most likely what you will find
there may or may not be PD,  no matter what they say.

I'm no saint , I have made mistakes of my own on this...all such works derived from such sources.
.... have since been destroyed ... save one....

Before I learned how this works with image collection sites..
I inadvertently used a work by another artist, that I found on such a site,
which by sheer chance I came across the real one later.
Which is what made me question any works I had made based on such images
and led to their eventual demise.

The image I had found, had it's copyright information removed as I found out.
Which given that most of us park it on a lower corner somewhere, it is not hard, you just crop the image.
I cheat, mine are buried in the image itself as well ... tiny little words that don't detract from the image
but I know where they are... :) Anyway

I contacted them right away and told them what happened and gratefully they liked what I had
done with it and gave me leave to continue to use it. I got lucky. From that moment on,
I have become the biggest bloodhound you ever saw with regard to, CAN I use this.. REALLY..!

It's why my disclaimer looks like this ...  As a CYOA in case , despite my care, I'm wrong

To my Knowledge all the parts and bits that I have used to make my little pictures
are public domain ..or my own creation ... if I am mistaken in this and have used something unknowingly
that you KNOW is your creation Please let me know and I will dismantle the work ...
Unless you like what I have done with it.. in which case I will be happy to credit your part in its design..

That image by the way has never and will never be put up for sale.
As works go it's not one of my best really being a very EARLY work.
But since I Know the background I used is anothers work, It stays as what it is
a header art.. it's on this page if your interested with full credits given the backgrounds creator.

She and I are good friends now and have been for years :)

Such backgrounds I can make for myself now, As I have the programing to do so, but
almost all such works need more than the 3D programing will do. Post work as it's called.
Which is where other images come in.

I know where all mine come from now, from collections of mostly
outdated goodies, hunted up over long hours, that are clearly marked with all the proper forms as PD,
it's why I lot of them look so retro, they are :) It's also why you tend to see a great many
similar images used over and over. Very often it's a re make of the same image. I work very hard
at making sure I don't step on the toes of anothers work, if for no other reason than I certainly wouldn't
want someone to do it to mine. Once was enough to teach me, not to just trust another's word on it
without certain assurances. And even then I'm leery.

Any image you see with a real human face/form
Is either my own in many cases, not being vain but no one can argue using Myself as material
or PD images that are dated accordingly and even then I modify them
so as to protect the privacy of any heirs. Any human form becomes a canvas I mold and modify
to where it resembles no person living or dead. Unless it's me. It's why most of them are so tiny...
or modified to the point of becoming a form on which I paint, bearing little resemblance
to their original form but are just a guideline for me to show where all the parts go.
It reminds me sometimes of how we used to play with paper dolls as a Kid :)

So this little missive is my plea to the web world at large to please.. please learn what the words
public domain mean and use them accordingly when putting up image collections.

As I for one, and I know I speak for many more, do NOT want to have the owner of an image
come back to haunt me years down the road.. that such and such an image belongs to them
and was misrepresented as public domain by someone who didn't understand what the term means.

We all work very hard to avoid this. I'm asking the web community at large to take as much care
in presenting images, as we, the artists try to do in creating them.

To see my art work