by Mike Masnick
Thu, Apr 1st 2010 2:04am
Joshua Weinberg points us to a question from Rick Prelinger, questioning why the US Postal Service restricts photography of the New Deal/WPA murals that it owns. As the USPS website notes, it owns over 1,000 murals that were all commissioned by the Treasury Department between the years of 1934 and 1943. You would think, therefore, they should be in the public domain. Not quite. While you can take photos, the USPS says that photos may only be low resolution, meaning "a maximum of 72 dpi and no larger than a four-by-five-inch output to end use." It has some other rules about not causing a disruption in Post Office facilities, which makes perfect sense, but it's difficult to see how the other rule makes sense. I can also understand if the goal was preservation (no flash, etc.), but not restrictions on how the images can be used. The US gov't does not own the copyright on these works, and thus it seems like they should be in the public domain. Given the USPS's own recent troubles over someone else claiming copyright on an image used in a USPS stamp, you would think they would be sensitive to these sorts of things.
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