Commons images on Flickr

The hot news from the museum-websites world (admittedly a rather small world) this morning, is that Flickr has launched a Flickr Commons project, where 3000 historic photos from the Library of Congress's collection have been uploaded onto Flickr for the community to view, tag, comment upon and annotate with notes. The photos are published under a 'No known copyright restrictions' copyright statement, which isn't quite 'Public Domain', but effectively suggests that you can do what you like with the photos, and you probably won't have any problems.

Flickr announced the project with a blog post - 'Many hands make light work' - focusing initially on encouraging users to add tags to the photos.

The Library of Congress also blogged the news, under the title 'My Friend Flickr: A Match Made in Photo Heaven', where they suggest that it's a way for them to expand the reach of their Library, and also encourage people to 'get tagging'.

Meanwhile, Fiona from the National Maritime Museum posted the news around the Museums Computer Group, and Seb Chan at the Powerhouse Museum in Australia commented on it on their 'digital media' blog, wondering whether museums will be keeping an eye on what impact this kind of project might have on image sales revenue.

Perhaps most interesting of all is the reaction from the 'Steve.museum', a somewhat academic research project by a group of museums investigating what value user-contributed tagging may have. On their mailing list, Lee Wells wrote 'When dealing with the masses, they might not think its fun or interesting to tag Picasso, but [they] love to identify friends and family, vacations and holidays', before others suggested that you could use Flickr to help with the Steve.museum project. Then George Oates from Flickr emerged from lurking on the list to say that she'd love to talk about more ideas for collaboration.

Interesting times indeed!

Update: Tom on the Past Thinking blog has also blogged the news. As has Jeremy Keith, who hopes that other institutions pick up on the idea.

Further update: A Flickr blog post sums up the response to the project after just one day: wow.