NATURE to save taxonomy!

Donat Agosti agosti at AMNH.ORG
Thu Jun 6 22:56:41 CDT 2002

----- Original Message -----
From: "Bill Shear" <wshear at>
To: "Donat Agosti" <agosti at>; "Taxacom" <TAXACOM at USOBI.ORG>
Sent: Thursday, June 06, 2002 7:27 PM
Subject: Re: NATURE to save taxonomy!

> On 6/6/02 1:03 PM, "Donat Agosti" <agosti at AMNH.ORG> wrote:
> >
> > Who cares, whether the Linnaean Society will be the sole repository of
> > descriptions, as long as they are put into the public domain and
> > at a stable locality - similar to the deposition of types.
> This is exactly the opposite of what is needed.  What is needed is wide
> dissemination of information, not its deposition in one place (or even
> several places).  As of now, species descriptions published in even the
> meanest journal wind up in scores of libraries around the world, or even
> posted for free (or relatively inexpensively) on the web.  The analogy
> type specimens is wrong.  Type specimens cannot be duplicated and sent out
> all over the place.  Unless the Linnean Society or someone else has a
> of creating ACCESS to the information, the deposition of it there is
> useless.

I agree. The costs for the dissemination of electronic documents is close to
nil, but there is only one type. I would argue, that the crucial, new step
by Nature is to make an official statement, that the publication will
actually remain in the public domain, that is, can be accessed by anybody
from anyhwere and be used for research purposes. Whether the document is on
one server, or on each screan saver doesn't matter. However, it would make
sense that some mechanism exists making sure that such publications don't
disappear at some point (archive), and that they can be found easily.
Nature, in respect of relaxing copyrights,  has already changed the contract
you have to sign to get your stuff published. Now, they want, very simply,
the commercial  right, but you can actually put up the publication on your
own site or use it for other non-commerical projects, such as teaching. This
is not the case for contracts with most of the other publishers. If this
could be changed, one avenue for innovative future developments. I assume,
that Nature with this newest step, is relaxing the copyrights even more, so
that its publications could be hosted on other than the author's personal
web site, such as taxon specific web sites which at finally could end up as
a possible archive.
Without making all the systematics publications accessible, the development
of any large knowledge system is hampered. Think of the latest developments
such as GBIF, or GTI, or the few taxon specific sites on Orthoptera, fish or

Donat Agosti

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