3 April 2022
Open letter to Flickr and Internet Archive to save collection of 5.2 million book image scans

We, the undersigned, call on Flickr and Internet Archive to reinstate the recently deleted “Internet Archive Book Images” account, a collection of 5.2 million searchable book illustrations covering 500 years of print culture.

This is a unique resource of societal and cultural significance, and its disappearance will be deeply felt by the many historians, artists, researchers, and others who regularly used the collection.

Through the years it has been explored and cared for by a community of users who believed they were contributing to the preservation and enrichment of a lasting commons.

By shutting down the account, Flickr and Internet Archive are undermining the trust that users have placed in them when tagging and enriching the collection. In addition, they are undermining their own longer term role and responsibilities as infrastructure for the cultural commons.

Reinstating the collection is not just a question of account management, but of trust, community, and the safekeeping of culturally significant material.

Given their longstanding commitment to the commons, we hope that Flickr will work with the Internet Archive to bring back this invaluable collection.

Update 05 April 2022

We did it — the collection is saved!

Flickr have agreed to reinstate the collection (though they are suggesting to do so in a way which will keep it separate from The Commons).

See this message from George Oates on the Flickr forum communicating their regret around what happened and outlining their future plan: flickr.com/help/forum/en-us/72157720510495566/#rep...

Thank you all so much for taking the time to lend your support to the campaign! And thanks to Flickr and Internet Archive for their quick response. After just a few hours of this open letter going live we had both parties talking openly about this on Twitter. It seems the deletion was Flickr's idea, but they've now said they will put it back online — though their idea is for it to be separate from the Commons.

We're very grateful for any home for the account, but do feel it's detrimental to have it siloed from others in the Commons. It seems Flickr's chief concern was that the Internet Archive images were drowning out others in searches (not something we experienced, but appreciate others have different use cases). But couldn't this be solved with a simple filter? The option to include Internet Archive images could be turned off by default, so they were only seen by those who chose to see them.

Both Internet Archive and Flickr have been in touch directly, and this idea of the filter is something we hope to talk to Flickr about in more detail over the coming days.

Thanks again,

The Public Domain Review.

Update 03 April 2022

For more information see the following links

Blog post on The Public Domain Review: publicdomainreview.org/blog/2022/04/5-million-book...

Library of Congress post about the collection from 2014: blogs.loc.gov/thesignal/2014/12/unlocking-the-imag...

1,146 verified
  1. Adam Green, Co-Founder / Editor-in-Chief, The Public Domain Review
  2. Jonathan Gray, Senior Lecturer, King’s College London, London
  3. Brian Jones, Technical Lead, The Public Domain Review, Columbus, OH
  4. Hunter Dukes, Managing Editor, The Public Domain Review, Helsinki
  5. WY Liu, PhD student, Taipei
  6. Ellen Duffer, Managing Editor and Blog Editor, Ploughshares, Boston
  7. Paul Taylor, olive farmer, Xerta
  8. Seanacey Pierce, Letterpress printer, Kyoto
  9. Luiz Antonio BUeno Barbosa, Full Stack Developer, Iniciativa Privacidade Digital, Vitória, Brazil
  10. Tomasz Lewicki, astronomer, Myself, Świdnica, PL
  11. Person Araujo, Web designer, personaraujo.com.br, Salvador-Bahia
  12. Anne-Lise Heinrichs, Cat herder, Fens, UK
  13. Alex Galt, Hummus Manufacturer, uBu foods, Green Bay
  14. Jen Garcia, Software engineer, Haverstack, Atlanta
  15. Carl Anderson, Software Developer, Madison, Wi, USA
  16. Jana, Software Engineer, Berlin
  17. Robin Ziegler, Docent, Pittsburgh
  18. Jonas Lönborg, Designer, Renard Roux, Espergærde, Denmark
  19. Carmel Galvin, Retired, Noosa
  20. Jim Anderson, Seed Buyer, West Des Moines
1,106 more
verified signatures
  1. Russ Harvey, Bookseller, Albany
  2. José Reinel Sánchez, Profesor, Universidad del Quindío, Armenia, Colombia
  3. H.K.
  4. Elena Christea, Teacher, elenachristea@gmail.com, Athens
  5. Dara Insixiengmay, 3D Artist, Atlanta
  6. anonymous, retired captain M.N., Thessaloniki Greece
  7. Lauren Hostetter, Graphic Designer, Personal, Sacramento, California, USA
  8. Friedrich Schwarz, Mathematician, Bad Lippspringe
  9. Anne Anderson, GIS Analyst, Rathdrum
  10. Hope J, MLIS Student, Maryland
  12. Weipeng Huang, freelancer, Taipei
  13. MEG PINSONNEAULT, Photog, filmmaker, graphic designer, shop owner, Shittty Stufff, Pasadena CA
  14. Leonardo Brogioni, photo consultant, free lance, Firenze
  15. L. McKay, Creative dir., Flickr and IA, WHY?, St. Petersburg
  16. Patrik Percy, artist, Los Angeles
  17. Monica Melinte, designer, Bucharest
  18. Lara Nicholls, Academic & Curator, Australian National University, Canberra
  19. Yildiz Gueven, Creator, Sky Marine Ferries, Bodrum
  20. Paul Tetu, AV Tech, freelance, self-employed, Denver
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