GlaxoSmithKline, the world’s second largest pharmaceutical company, which has spent a fortune researching cancer, has announced that it is making most of its information available to the research community for free.

Glaxo’s logic is that academics and small companies to do pioneering work — identifying new targets for medications, discovering early warning signs and figuring out the underlying biological malfunctions that cause cancer. It is only when those groundbreaking studies have been done that large corporations can step into the picture and create new products.

The information, which is available through the National Cancer Institute’s CaBIG website (, is related to 300 different sets of cells taken from breast, prostate, lung and ovarian cancer tissues.

Another contribution to open source has come from Sydney’s Powerhouse Museum which has become the first museum in the world to release publicly held historical photographs for free access on Flickr ( under a Creative Commons licence. About 8,000 photographs are being released in coming weeks.

The Library of Congress, the Brooklyn Museum and the Smithsonian have announced that they will also be contributing photos to the commons collection.