or, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Fear and Loathing at a Public Library Reference Desk

Microsoft Clipart Surprise

   July 2nd, 2015

Here's a real turkey of an Easter Egg right before Independence Day:

I was searching the Microsoft clipart gallery in Powerpoint because I needed a picture of a Teddy Bear for an event listing on our calendar. And skimming the results, the third one down on the left looked like it might be a good candidate...

Powerpoint clipart gallery

So now click on the image above to share in my surprise at that particular clipart bear's scary costume. Is this an April Fool's joke?

I don't know where Microsoft's online clipart gallery is pulling from, but they are far more prepared with clipart for all types of occasions and holidays than I would have expected.

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7 Responses to “Microsoft Clipart Surprise”

  1. Sunflower Says:

    Yikes! I believe Clipart pulls from Bing, which still doesn’t explain the odd search results….

  2. Monica Says:

    Yeah, it just pulls from Bing now and is generally horrible.

  3. Brian Herzog Says:

    @Sunflower & @Monica: thank you both – I didn’t know it just used Bing, but you are correct. I knew they’ve used an online source, but I thought it was some curated clipart gallery. I always thought of clipart as copyright-free material, but if it’s just a Bing image search then Creative Commons licensing must be in plasy as well. Hmm.

  4. JoshR Says:

    Oy, Bing my old nemesis we meet again.

    So in order to make sure you don’t accidently use something that’s not public domain, you go to Bing and search images using whatever search term you want, then when the images come up there will be a dropdown tab “License” above the images. You can select anything from “All” to “Free to modify, share and use commercially.”

    You can also select image type and limit to clip art or whatever, and yes when I repeated the “bear” search the Hitler teddy was in the second row of results.

    We had this come up a few years ago because we suddenly realized how the clipart worked now and the need to inform patrons that they might be using an image that wasn’t public domain. (and we all know how well that conversation always goes…) “But it’s on the internet! That means anyone can use it!” 😛

  5. Brian Herzog Says:

    @JoshR: I really had no idea it now worked like this. I did a quick survey of image searches, and it looks like Bing and Yahoo both let you limit to Public Domain images, but Google Images does not offer that. Flickr does, but most of the results there are scans from books. Usually when I’m looking for artwork, I definitely want public domain or otherwise not-necessary-to-credit work, at least for library posters and brochures and stuff. I might have to do a follow-up to Jessamyn’s I need to find a public domain image of _______. How do I do that? post – but it’s really a never-ending quest.

  6. Kaylin Says:

    Google does allow filtering – just go to Search Tools > Usage Rights 🙂

  7. Brian Herzog Says:

    @Kaylin: sorry, I realize that wasn’t clear – I meant that in their license filtering, Google doesn’t offer “Public Domain” as an option (which is the option I want to use for the library). Thank you for catching this.