I thought to build a tidy craft
But botched the job, and built a raft—
A raffish craft, whose aft and fore
Are more or less (or less or more)

Identical—also, the same—
So where I go, and whence I came,
I cannot tell from where I sit.
And that’s a pity—isn’t it?



Images: Boy on a Raft (1879), by Winslow Homer, out of copyright because, you know, it’s old; the original is in the National Gallery of Art. “Raft in the Rain,” by Japanese artist Yamamoto Shoun, presently in the collection of the National Museum of Asian Art in Washington, D.C.

The Smithsonian’s website advises that the Shoun work, a woodblock print, is from the Meiji era (明治) era, a period of Japanese history “which extended from October 23, 1868 to July 30, 1912.” As such, this image would be out of copyright in the U.S. The artist reportedly died in 1965; assuming, admittedly somewhat riskily, that Wikipedia’s summary of Japanese copyright law is correct, copyright protection under Japanese law would have extended 50 years after the author’s death, and the work would have entered the public domain in 2015… just in time not to have been subject to the frankly ridiculous extension of rights, enacted at the end of 2018, and fortunately (again according to Wikipedia) not retroactive, which would have added another 20 years of copyright “protection.”

That said, I would be remiss if I didn’t also point out that it’s nonetheless the Smithsonian’s position that “usage conditions apply.”

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