Everyone must have had a school experience of writing a research paper, struggling with footnotes that never seemed to meet the teacher's specifications, and wishing that the whole ordeal could just be over and blotted from memory. This may be one reason why so many people approach image sharing on social media with the conviction that what's been posted on the Internet is there for the taking, without need to observe the niceties of crediting the original artist.
There's an Internet meme that comes to mind: "Good artists copy, great artists steal ." Variously attributed to Steve Jobs, Pablo Picasso, T. S. Eliot and others, it reflects the widespread use of Appropriation as a creative technique in Contemporary art. In my school art classes I introduce my students to Copyright and Fair Use, and over time I've become more and more sensitive to the importance of the Public Domain in our ability as artists to share and communicate creative ideas. Through Haigaonline I've published feature articles, galleries and themed challenges designed to encourage readers to explore and take advantage of freely available texts and images. I've especially enjoyed Anita Virgil's explorations through Creative Commons and image-sharing sites such as Wikimedia, Flickr and Google that support it (she has included a few more such images in her current collection).
In December I was immensely pleased to hear from Emily Romano after a hiatus of several years. Among the lovely watercolor haiga she sent us was a "first dream" tanka. I opened the attachment and instantly knew that the Winter 2016 gallery I'd been planning for January should be a New Year's exhibition. Easily and quickly done, but I'd need a banner for the Gallery's entry page that was more than our usual banner images of visitors in an art gallery. But what? As I made the pages last night, watching the celebrations as midnight worked its way through successive time zones, I played with the idea of finding an image of fireworks. Soon, though, I realized that it was the concept of "around the globe" was what was important. The search term "NASA earth image" quickly brought me to the perfect copyright-free photograph, taken by an astronaut on the International Space Station on Earth Day 2003.
I also discovered something else I didn't know: January 1 is "Public Domain Day", the day of the year when copyrights expire and works enter into the public domain. So please join me in celebrating both of today's important observances.
Happy New Year 2016, and Happy Public Domain Day!