What are we going to do about Copyright?

Barry Roth barryr at UCMP1.BERKELEY.EDU
Fri Nov 1 08:01:20 CST 1996


Barbara Ertter <ertter at ucjeps.herb.berkeley.edu> wrote:
>Hey, isn't anybody else going to comment on the obvious connection between
>the two current threads on TAXACOM?  I mean, just THINK of the money that
>would come flowing in to support taxonomy if every user of a scientific
>name had to pay for the right!  Or would this just further drive all
>non-taxonomists to use common names, which I assume are in the public
>domain (or maybe not).
>I THINK I'm just kidding...

The zoological and botanical Codes concern themselves with what passes for
valid publication.  The zo. code at least (the one I'm familiar with) places
limits on the medium of publication that is regarded as valid (i.e., "in ink
on paper ... numerous identical copies").  At least in theory a revised code
could require that the only valid names after a certain date are ones
published in a work that is not copyrighted, or a work that contains an
explicit agreement by the copyright holders not to assert intellectual
property rights to the names of taxa therein.

This is a slippery slope, and we are already standing on enough of those
[block that metaphor! --Ed.].  Does anyone know of an actual case of a
publisher asserting copyright on taxonomic names -- rather than just a
lawyer's (or anybody's) opinion that such a thing _could_ happen?  If so,
that publisher's name should be made widely known in our circles.

 Barry Roth                             barryr at ucmp1.berkeley.edu
 Research Associate, Museum of Paleontology
 University of California, Berkeley, CA 94117 USA   (415) 387-8538




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