The New York Public Library's spectacular Digital Public Library challenged designers to create new covers for some of the public domain's greatest books, which had been previously doomed to an undeserved dullness thanks to the auto-generated covers that book-scanning projects stuck them with.
I can't figure out what license the new covers are under and whether anyone can use them as covers in their own collections of public domain books, or whether permission must be sought for each design.
Update: They're licensed Creative Commons Non-Commercial, and John Holbo has a good explanation for why this is the license used.
Every great book deserves a great cover. Sadly, many of the greatest classics in the public domain are left with poorly designed or autogenerated covers that fail to capture what makes these books exciting and inspiring to us. We're asking illustrators, typographers, and designers of all stripes to create new covers starting with 100 of the greatest works of fiction in the public domain. Together we can help to keep these classics fresh, modern, and accessible to new generations of readers.
Thanks to a new partnership with the White House, New York Public Library, and the Digital Public Library of America, select Recovering The Classics covers are made available on ebooks for schools and libraries across the country.
Your Cover Should:
Depict the front cover of one of the listed titles, prominently displaying the book’s title (larger) and the author’s full name.
Be a vertically oriented, 12" by 18" RGB image at a resolution of 300dpi (3600 by 5400 pixels) that is a JPG or PNG
Be bold, expressive, and engaging
Be legible in black and white
Be a full bleed image (no margins or borders)
Keep a safe area of at least 1" on all sides (don’t place text too close to the edge)
Optional: Include an apparel file that is layered or includes a transparent background (AI, PSD, PNG, TIFF) (Be sure to outline any fonts used)
Recovering the Classics [NYPL]