flickr has teamed up with the Library of Congress, the Powerhouse Museum Collection, the Brooklyn Museum, the Smithsonian Institution, and Bibliothèque de Toulouse to start building a public archive of photographs called flickr Commons. Unlike private collections like Getty Images or The Bettman Archive, flickr Commons is open for anyone for any use.
There are no known copyright restrictions on the use of these photographs.
I’ve been tracking this through the Library of Congress but wasn’t aware of the other groups participating until Kottke’s post. I’m very excited about this, it’s like having a photographic encyclopedia online. And, the more tagging and writing that gets done on each photograph, the better integrated it will be on the web, google crawls flickr and so, all of these photographs and their comments are indexed.