Well, I think the difference is that StarTrekHistory graciously has made no effort to realize any revenue from these pictures--whether it was properly theirs to realize or not.
And then along comes a project with the very same pictures who seems to be realizing some revenue.
If indeed StarTrekHistory and birdofthegalaxy actually could have monetized these pictures all along in the first place, I can understand their frustration with this project.
As I said upthread I brought up this issue to a career entertainment lawyer who does who works to clear I.P. for movies and videogames: likenesses and images and characters, the works.
He explained the difference between using images that are clearly in the public domain and those which are considered transformative work or work added, and based on my brief explanation said that it sounded like the latter. He also was pretty clear that absent other evidence these images would not be public domain (unless the Copyright owner expressly released them) in the first place. He obviously would not offer an actual legal opinion or advice without knowing all the facts, but he was pretty clear about how the law generally treats such items.
So, respectfully, I've consulted an expert on this, whereas lay opinions given here are just that.
And as I so clearly stated the only Copyright owner is the "photographer". Altering a picture gives you NO rights whatsoever. In fact without a release from the photographer it is plain and simply illegal. So StarTrekhistory is just as liable to a suit if they were to pursue such a course and they would lose.