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Smithsonian Makes Millions of Images Available Online


In advance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, when our firm will be closed to honor his memory, we are pleased to call your attention to the new collection of more than three million digital images that are now available free of charge on the Smithsonian Open Access webpage. 

One image from the Smithsonian collection is shown below of a poster used during the 1968 Memphis March.

 Poster reading "HONOR KING: END RACISM!" in block letters over a plain background

The Smithsonian collection includes text, still images, sound recordings, research datasets, 3D models, collections data, and more.  These materials come from the Smithsonian’s 19 museums, nine research centers, libraries, archives, and the National Zoo.

You may download, share, and reuse items from this collection--all without charge or restrictions from the Smithsonian--for art and creative projects, education, scholarly research, digital media projects, publications, merchandising, and other uses.

You do not need to get a license from the Smithsonian because it is making them available under the Creative Commons License for Public Domain Dedication CC0 (also known as CC Zero or CCO 1.0). The terms of the CC Zero license allow you to distribute, remix, adapt, and build upon the material in any medium or format, with no conditions imposed by the Smithsonian.  We previously wrote about other Creative Commons licenses and their limitations.

However, you should be mindful that third-party rights may still apply to any image or other item you may consider using from the Smithsonian site.  There may be patent, trademark, privacy, or publicity rights in the subject depicted in the material which would not be affected by the CC Zero license and would have to be separately licensed.  Furthermore, when using or citing the work, you should not imply an unauthorized endorsement.

For further information, please contact William M. Borchard or your CLL attorney.

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