What’s happened to OpenClipart?
Date: 14 Jun, 2019
Posted by: admin
In: design, fonts & graphics|linux, open source & software
The 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.
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.
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:
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 (firstname.lastname@example.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.