Free Clip Art
September 5, 2008 12:37 PM   Subscribe

No really, it's good. It's from Florida's Educational Clearinghouse and students and teachers can use up to 50 pieces of it in a single project without needing any further permission.

From the FAQ:
The Florida Center for Instructional Technology (FCIT) supports the appropriate integration of technology in the classroom. We believe students should actively use technology to create their own content. To do this, students (and teachers) need the raw materials with which to build their own presentations and publications. As educators, we know how frustrating it is to search for clipart on the Internet. Dancing Teddy bears are easy to find. More significant content is much harder. Our goal is to offer a quality collection of resources for the classroom. We are building this collection as quickly as time and funding allow.
There's a ton of categories, including pre-columbian history, doodads, thermometers, and algae.

There aren't any smiley gifs or bouncing balls (thankfully). There is, however, a cat fishing.
posted by misanthropicsarah (18 comments total) 34 users marked this as a favorite
Considering that the FAQ claims that all of these images are out of copyright (sources prior to 1923), why would you have to ask for permission to use them no matter how many of them you use? Or am I missing something here?
posted by JaredSeth at 12:45 PM on September 5, 2008 [2 favorites]

from the license page:
Why do you have a copyright notice on really old illustrations?
It is true that the original drawings that many items in this collection are based on have long passed into the public domain. However, by the time we have scanned, cropped, cut out backgrounds, fixed broken lines, simplified, sharpened, and otherwise cleaned up the original drawing, the result is a new artwork derived from the earlier drawing. The derivative work is protected by copyright even though the original is in the public domain.
posted by misanthropicsarah at 12:54 PM on September 5, 2008

Nice resource, thanks misanthropicsarah.
posted by nickyskye at 1:08 PM on September 5, 2008

That's really cool.
posted by oddman at 1:16 PM on September 5, 2008

Man this is awesome.

Old Sports Uniforms!

Terrifying Children's Games!

Thank you so, so much. I will make amazing use of this wonderful resource.
posted by SpiffyRob at 1:20 PM on September 5, 2008 [1 favorite]

Actually, that's not the case. Reproductions of non-copyrighted works (as opposed to distinctly new works based on them), when made in the United States, have no copyright of their own. The "sweat of the brow" argument was rejected by the US supreme court in the 1991 feist/rural telephone case.

You can ignore that license as you wish. (I am not a lawyer.)
posted by seanmpuckett at 1:36 PM on September 5, 2008 [2 favorites]

Yeah seriously, cleaning up a public domain image does not reset the copyright, thats ridiculous.
posted by norabarnacl3 at 1:44 PM on September 5, 2008 [1 favorite]

The descriptions of doodads gets pretty weird after a while: a doodad, a doodad, a doodad, a doodad, ...
posted by scruss at 1:47 PM on September 5, 2008

FETC labels clip-art
doodad, doodad
descriptions that aren't too smart
oh, the doodad day

I apologize for this horrible Camptown Races parody. Just blame scruss for drawing my attention to the doodads.
posted by owtytrof at 2:03 PM on September 5, 2008

I'm not a lawyer, but I would actually tend to agree with their claim to copyright on the cleaned-up digital images. I don't necessarily think that's a good thing, but I do think they're probably correct.

The "sweat of the brow" argument refers primarily to the idea that one could copyright a mere compilation of facts solely on the basis that one had worked to compile them. The Feist court did reject that argument, noting that originality is the actual basis of copyright in factual compilations under the current Copyright Act.

That doesn't actually have anything to do with this clip art, though.* A copyrighted derivative work can be created from public domain works, but the copyright in the new work only extends to the creative changes made to the original.

The better argument in this case is that nothing done to the clip art reaches even the low bar for creativity set by the current copyright laws. That is, one would argue that the digitization and enhancement were all purely mechanical--that any reasonably skilled person seeking to clean up the images would have done it the same way. Frankly, good luck with that.

Nothing is stopping one from digitizing and cleaning up the originals oneself, though. Those are still in the public domain and always will be.

* Except perhaps inasmuch as one could argue the (lack of a) copyright in the compilation of the clip art as a whole via creative expression in the selection and arrangement of the parts. But that copyright would only extend to the compilation as a whole, not to the individual works.
posted by jedicus at 2:19 PM on September 5, 2008

Terrifying Children's Games!

Damn, maybe while they were doing all that scanning and cleaning up they could have altered the hand placement in this one.
posted by mandal at 2:31 PM on September 5, 2008

Can you copyright the Royal coat of arms?
posted by milkrate at 3:29 PM on September 5, 2008

Bridgeman Art Library v. Corel Corp.: "...ruled that exact photographic copies of public domain images could not be protected by copyright because the copies lack originality. Even if accurate reproductions require a great deal of skill, experience and effort, the key element for copyrightability under U.S. law is that copyrighted material must show sufficient originality."
posted by zsazsa at 4:44 PM on September 5, 2008 [1 favorite]

Thanks a lot... as a teacher, I'm always looking for free clipart.
posted by Huck500 at 6:35 PM on September 5, 2008 [1 favorite]

While I never meant to derail (particularly as I like the collections and intend to pillage them shamelessly), it's that latter argument that I was thinking of, jedicus. I wouldn't think that cropping images and cleaning them up constitutes derivative artwork.

That said, thanks for this, sarah. I got completely lost in the Science and Math sections for an hour earlier today.
posted by JaredSeth at 8:56 PM on September 5, 2008

(I'll take that blame, owtytrof, and thank you for writing a better CR parody than I could think of.)
posted by scruss at 10:27 AM on September 6, 2008

This is absolutely fantastic. I'll be making use of these as well. Thanks!
posted by kryptondog at 6:54 AM on September 8, 2008

If scanned line art isn't your thing, or you'd rather your clip art be in the public domain rather than "free for limited educational use," how about some nice shiny SVGs from the Open Clip Art Library?
posted by musicinmybrain at 6:24 PM on September 8, 2008

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