Let’s Talk About the Public Domain

Lest we forget, this site is about drinking and art, and so far it’s been a bit heavy on the drinking; that’s something I have in common with this website.

Materials that exist within the public domain are, somewhat intuitively, publicly owned. They are free for use, and reuse. Stanford has an excellent primer on the public domain, which you can find here. The long and short of it, though, is basically that they’re there for everyone. Most things fall into the public domain because their copyright protections run out at a certain age; some things are put there for purposes of making the world better, or just because someone forgot to copyright their material. I will try very hard to avoid content that is in that last camp.

It would be poor form not to list a few of the websites from which images are drawn for this site, so here’s a little sampling.

The Public Domain Review

The Public Domain Review is the site that inspired Drinking in Public. Their collection is vast, varied, and well curated. Go! Now! Here’s a few cool things pulled from PDR.

The US Library of Congress

The US Library of Congress, one of the largest archives on earth, has a gobsmacking, enormous collection, as one might expect. Here’s a taste.


The Flickr Commons can be a bit tough to sort through, but is full of treasures once you’re in. Anyone can upload, which adds the double edged sword of varied, uncurated content; tremendous variety, along with tremendous volumes of fluff.

The Birds of America

Last but not least, John James Audubon’s Birds of America comprise the entirety of the art in the first issue of Drinking in the Public Domain. They’re spectacular, beautiful pieces of art, and of American history. Enjoy the pictures, and donate to the Audubon Society to help bird preservation effort.

There are, of course, many, many, many more public image resources. I’m sure I’ll list more later. In the meanwhile, enjoy art that’s for all of us, and maybe enjoy a cocktail while you do it!

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