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Flickr Foundation launches with aim of preserving Flickr for future generations


Flickr.org has launched – a new foundation that will run alongside the company with the mission of growing, stewarding, and preserving the Flickr Commons – its archive of historic and culturally significant photographs to ensure this remains safe and in the public domain for another 100 years.

The Commons were established in 2008, led by Flickr’s first designer George Oates. Since then it has grown into a collection of over 7 million images with no known copyright restrictions, and a growing list of CC0 (no copyright reserved) and public domain works.

Flickr was bought by SmugMug in 2018 at which time CEO Don MacAskill and COO Ben MacAskill committed to protecting the Commons and the openly-licensed and public domain content, and making it sustainable.

Prior to announcing the foundation, a group had been working together to establish it for around a year. So far there are two people on the Board of Directors: Ryan Merkley, long-time open advocate and former CEO at Creative Commons and Chief of Staff at the Wikimedia Foundation, now Managing Director at Aspen Digital; and Stephanie McVey, SmugMug + Flickr’s Chief Financial Officer. The first Executive Director of the foundation is George Oates, who was asked back to the organisation in December 2020 to work out how to revitalise the Flickr Commons programme.

Funded so far by SmugMug and Flickr, Flickr.org will develop a longer-term outlook for the collection, and investigate preservation strategies. With a major project to be that of developing a 100-year plan, several research workshops have already been held to begin shaping what such a plan should look like.

The organisation also plans to further build its programmes, establish a community Advisory Board, and expand and diversify the Board of Directors. More on this here.

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