fees for providing data

Karsten Hartel hartel at MCZ.HARVARD.EDU
Thu Jan 26 09:58:56 CST 1995

This is a section of a leter I wrote on 20 July 1994.  It reflects personal
views that I expressed as a member of the American Society of
Ichthyologists and Herpetologists Collections Committee.

This is a quick reply to your memo.  As you remember from ASIH committee
two years ago I, personally, am strongly opposed to charging for specimen
information for several reasons.

The most obvious is that this recent effort to charge is only a retrebution
to what some ... [conservation groups] ... are presumably doing with data
that they receive from various museums.  That is getting our data for free,
repackageing it, and selling it at a profit.

Profit seem to be the big objection here.  Use and repackaging of data
seems not to be the key issues.  Remember use of this data has probably
saved many thousands of acres of ich & herp habitat.

If the reselling for profit is the REAL issue then it might be far better
to stop the practice at a higher level.  It seems to me that if the upper
administration of several museums and ASC sat down with the heads of
..[the conservation groups]... and put the problems on the table, things
could be ironed out.  If things can't be ironed out then STOP giving them

If we start charging it will become a administrative and bureaucratic
nightmare.  If the typical administrator sees $$$$$ they will start doing
things that we probably don't want them to do..."

Another point, not mentioned above.  The development of databases in most
major US fish collections is is either directly from NSF funds or a
spinoff from such grants.  Therefore, taxpayers have already paid for the
development of the database.  The costs to run a search are nil.  For
fishes this can now be done over the internet.


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