I know very little about photo journalism and even less about the rights surrounding published photos. What I do know is that it’s very difficult to find pictures on the web pre 1990. Oh sure, it’s possible to find pictures of famous photos such as the one of Einstein above. But, what about the hundreds of thousands of photos that were printed in newspapers and magazines throughout the decade. Are these photos archived anywhere and if so can they be digitalized?
Apparently the answer is yes and yes. Corbis, a creation by Bill Gates is the “industry's richest array of digital image licensing, rights services, artist representation and media management”. Basically, they have the largest stock of licensed photos. Their is also AP, Getty Images and other photo archives. Included in Corbis'catalog is the 11 million photos in the Bettmann Archive. Unfortunately, less than 10% of these photos have been digitized and the rest sit in an underground chamber.
The idea here is to create a marketplace for historic photos for personal use. Give bloggers access to buy or borrow photos. There are thousands of photos of political leaders, world event, places, architecture, nature and sports that are nowhere to be found on the web.
As I write this I realize that there are a few major issues. One is licensing and ownership. Two is that the manual process of digitizing photos is a tremendous undertaking that will take thousands of years. Perhaps the first step would to be to aggregate existing photo archives of digital photos and creating a commerce platform and marketplace.