What’s happened to OpenClipart?

Date: 14 Jun, 2019
Posted by: admin
In: design, fonts & graphics|linux, open source & software

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screenshot: Openclipart, website is under maintenanceThe openclipart.org website has been offline for almost 2 months. Reports on Twitter indicate that it went down due to a DDoS from unknown sources. Users are getting concerned that there may be data loss, and are looking for other sources for copyright free clipart. WayBackMachine and others have some assets saved.

Open Clipart website

Offline since April

Without much of a todo on the internet the Open Clip Art Library (OCAL), hosted on Linode at openclipart.org, a repository of ~160,000 free vector images, has been offline since at least 19 April 2019. There is some evidence on the Way Back Machine that it was having trouble from as early as March 2019.

DDoS, data loss?

Reports suggest that the site was taken down in order to handle a distributed denial of service attack (DDoS) but there is little confirmation of this from any external sources.

tweet from @openclipart: "Under DDoS attack from some unknown sources [...]"

There is no backup available on the web, as far as I can tell. Whilst people have in the past mentioned the possibility of making a torrent of all the art available (eg on Free Desktop hosted “clipart” mailing list) it seems nothing was made of this. Various people have requested the assets be made available via torrent since the openclipart.org site went down, but — at least on twitter — the site owners seemingly haven’t responded.

Other OCAL file stores

The Internet Archive has some of the files on the Way Back Machine (WBM), such as this example of a spider’s web, and clicking through the SVG files can be found too. Indeed the WBM claims to have ~190,000 SVG images from the site, more than the entire archive (which could be true, as it could include removed files); though it’s not clear how to readily access all of these.

Meanwhile the PublicDomainFiles.com website has around 14,000 of the images available on their website, like this anatomical heart image. They list those images as “public domain”; part of their total 200,000 public domain images. So, perhaps they only have the PD licensed images from OCAL which is primarily a CC0 site.

Wikimedia also has just over 2000 of the OCAL files it seems.

Official sources?

It seems that OCAL has associations with the LibreGraphicsWorld.org group of projects, and that the primary maintainer is Rejon who is managing the @openclipart Twitter account. Troublingly, on 11 June 2019 @rejon tweeted:

tweet from @rejon: "taken back control" [of @openclipart]

Saying they had “taken back control” presumably of the Twitter account … making the incident sound like it is much more than the reported DDoS. But this would explain some tweets which seemingly requested money be sent to a BitCoin account.

@rejon is Jon Phillips one of the founders of openclipart.org according to Wikipedia along with Bryce Harrington (a prolific OSS coder well known as co-founder of the Inkscape project, amongst others). Phillips is credited as founder of Fabricatorz an “art technology studio” who Netcraft confirms (!) as the organisation behind the clipart.org website.

Is the OCAL project dead?

Whelp, it’s approaching 2 months now since the site went down, which is very long to handle a DDoS attack especially given that the Netcraft info indicates that they have at least some association with Cloudflare (as their nameservers are hosted with them). Cloudflare are known for handling DDoS and clipart.org’s hosts Linode have specific integrations with Cloudlflare (as do many web hosts) to enable their users to access Cloudflare’s DDoS handling capabilities …

So, it would appear that there’s something else going on? The author of this blog has reached out to OCAL (love@openclipart.org) to get some comments, and they’ll be added here if any reply is made.

Other long term issues?

Utter speculation: It seems there may be other long term issues with the project. Integration with Inkscape was made some years ago, but when the full OCAL integration broke (upload to OCAL), it remained broken. Not itself a smoking gun by any means, but add in that the FreeDesktop.org mailing list for OCAL has had no real traffic since March 2015, and maybe there’s some indications of a project slowly failing?

I should note that I fully support OCAL and am a contributor there.


openclipart.org is seemingly dead in the water (status unknown) but site owners claim to be working on, and recovering from, an extended DDoS. Some sites (see above) have OCAL assets saved.

10 Responses to "What’s happened to OpenClipart?"

matt says:

Thanks for this overview, much appreciated.

I can’t help but wonder, how do we know that it’s the actual @rejon who regained control of the account, and then started seeking donations? Some of the twitter posts I was looking at today make it seem like it’s in the control someone else who has an agenda unrelated to OCAL. (though still a worthy one if true).

Regardless of that, I’m suprised and dismayed to learn that something of this much community value has gone unmirrored. It makes me a look at other places I rely on with a new eye.

rob says:

Hi I read your artical and found it very informative, I have used OCAL for years and was disappointed when it went down. I am not sure if you follow twitter but I have posted a few tweets, some targetted directly at the founder of the site, and I could never get a straight answer so I believe you are right, and site may never return. Rather than just put up with this, I reached out to web developer behind public domain vectors and they have created a new site,which they hope will carry on from where OCAL left off, although I am not affiliated with them, I promised to help get the word out, if they launched the site, so I was hoping you might be willing to check out their site, and purhaps make mention of their site as a alternative place to go for clipart, their new site is: https://freesvg.org/

Robert Wm Ruedisueli says:

Several sites have popped up with archives now.

FreeSVG.Org has one such archive.

I hope the folks at Archive.org will scrape their wayback machine records of the site and put the library up in their media archive. This would be very kind of them.

Titus says:

It seems to be back?

Staffan Vilcans says:

It looks like it’s back up now. Registered users can search and upload.

Vickie says:

Any help for those of us who used the site but never registered. It seems like I cannot get in or find a place to register. Locked out forever?

Vickie says:

I do see now that I can scroll through the whole site but can’t find how to search. Any help?

Staffan says:

Search used to be limited to logged in users, but should now work even if you’re not logged in.

Staffan says:

You can now sign up at https://openclipart.org/join but it requires a first clipart.

David Smith says:

Thank you for sharing the information, it will help me a lot in academic blogs. I really appreciate that.


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