Ralph Morse: a famous LIFE photographer who shot images of the Beatles in 1964—- he also, in 1947, was chosen to do an exclusive survey of the Lascaux Caves in France. Morse created pictures of the spectacular ancient cave paintings that impress in breathtaking clarity man’s deep desire to express himself.
Yesterday I went a little nuts reblogging the best of tha Lascaux Cave Art that is available on Tumblr. I think we need to share the public domain to make sure it doesn’t disappear.
Please note: the photographs Mr. Morse took of the Beatles would still be very much under todays’s ridiculously long copyright terms, even though that incarnation of Life Magazine went bankrupt and half of the Beatles are dead.
It doesn’t get any more “public domain” than 17,000+ year old art, which is why all my reblogs of photographs from the Lascaux Caves are tagged #Public Domain …
At least the Lascaux paintings are themselves in the public domain.
Of course, since the caves have been closed to the public — to preserve the content — I can’t simply wander in and snap my own shot.
And although it is reasonable to believe that the faithful reproduction — simply a direct copy — of original artwork that has passed into the public domain should itself be considered a mechanical copy [and therefore not derivative art deserving of its own copyright], that premise has yet to be legally tested; so the photographer could presumably assert copyright, and we would only find out after the expensive exercise of fighting it out in the courts.
I prefer to think the Lascaux Cave art isn’t being preserved for the exclusive benefit of a few lucky copyright holders, but rather that this important part of our shared cultural history is being preserved for all of humanity, now and for the future.