Carl Malamud, who has spent two decades cajoling the government into putting public data online for free, is confronting his latest institutional Goliath.
The Sebastopol activist has launched a new campaign targeting the Smithsonian Institution and its policy of charging licensing fees to use public images downloaded from its vast collection of historic American artifacts.
Unlike the Library of Congress and the National Archives, the Smithsonian is alone in charging the public to use images from its collections.
“I think that is illegal, and unconscionable,” Malamud said. “Many, many more artists would be using this material, but it’s all locked up.”