US Department of Defense's public domain archive to be privatized, locked up for ten years


This is a shame. A company that had no hand in producing the pictures will now get to profit off of them for ten years. Shouldn’t this be something the Library of Congress would handle?


Locking up public domain material.

Locking. Public Domain.

…Well. I’d like to say I’m surprised but all i can muster is resigned disappointment.


Funding for lots of the US government is being cut severely. Get used to this kind of crap, guys!

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The alternative is the current situation: lots of material that is technically in the public domain, but which cannot be accessed or viewed by anyone. I suppose digitization could be done in house or by another arm of the government, but I don’t think there’s much public support for paying for these kinds of programs.

That would require allocating money to fund the project, and as I’m sure you know from listening to the House leadership giving money to a government agency is fundamentally evil. The arrangement with T3Media gets the scanning paid for by the end users instead of out of taxes and so is supposedly “better”.

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The government should just get the internet archive to digitize this stuff. I’m sure they’d love to digitize this stuff without removing it’s publit domain status. And a generous public donation wouldn’t hurt.


I hope the 10 years starts now and not from the point that the data is digitized. That would be a disaster. Other than that it sounds like exactly the right solution, sort of like what copyright was supposed to be when it was first created.


No kidding. They have the equipment, dedicated staff, and can get public support. Plus it would win points with the public, or at least the tech savvy people that have had all kinds of trust issues going on lately.

And as a bonus down the road we’d get a talk down the road from Jason Scott about that awesome time he got asked to digitize a bunch of the government’s crap.


I somehow doubt the U.S. Department of Defense is really feeling this much of a budget crunch.


It looks like this is their media stuff (photos, videos, etc), and not all their archives - I guess this doesn’t apply to them, but it’s a bit unclear to me? Can I still go look through DoD papers on say tours for musicians to war zones? Does this mean I can’t get access to the papers of the record label V-Disc started during the war? Or I just can’t get access to the photos, recordings, or videos of said label?

My questions (as an historian, who might one day need this sort of thing) is there a different set of criteria for access for scholars? All they mention in the article is “production companies” who might want to license the images, but what about for research/scholarly purposes? What does that mean for those of us who need access to this sort of thing? Do we have to pay the price set by T3Media as well? I know that the CIA offers different pricing for scholars for, say printing (I think I remember that correctly).

And in general (putting on my tin foil hat here, a bit), I wonder if privatization is a work around declassification? Is the aim to make sure this stuff doesn’t see the light of day? Or is it just to make a quick buck off of it (if we agree with Moglen that information is the new backbone of the economy, this seems more likely)?


and the department of defense couldn’t just do this themselves because?

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get used to it? no. and also, like this is new.

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DoD is being cut very hard right now, like lots of other things.

Maybe for the same reason that the government couldn’t get the health exchange websites up and running before they went live (and the same reason you don’t capitalize)? Technology is one thing the government doesn’t do very well, even in the places they do a lot of it: heck, the fact that Snowden was a contractor ought to tell you something about how well equipped even highly-funded departments on priority projects are.


actually it’s either laziness or the fact that i really am pre-texting.

600 million dollars. cough. don’t really see anything better about throwing money away contractors or not.

heck, i’m still looking at the whole snowden debacle as farcical.

Time to give more money to Carl Malamud. He’ll get it unlocked.

I thought public domain was a one-way street? Once something is released to the public domain it, by legal definition, cannot have copyright re-asserted.

Looking at a worst-case scenario: could someone spring to pay T3 Media for access to item(s) and then make those item(s) available online themselves, since it is still legally public domain?

The alternative is for project like, perhaps under the righteous efforts of someone like Carl Malamud to put the gate keepers out of the business of charge rent over the artificial scarcity imposed by a single gate.

I see what you did there…