[Taxacom] FW: copyright, creative commons licences, etc.

Donat Agosti agosti at amnh.org
Fri Sep 14 03:27:28 CDT 2007

Sorry for cross-posting. I think access to our taxonomic-scientific
literature is a huge impediment, especially if you think beyond our own
productive inner circle, where missing access has been recognized as the
Taxonomic Impediment. We as individuals must be much more aware of what we
want and what our rights and possibilities are, and at the same time, our
institutions need to take this aspect as much into consideration as viewing
everything as a potential source of revenues. It clearly needs a balance -
but a balance exists only if there is a tolerable solution at hand.







TDWG is about making data interoperable, thus leading, in the best case, to
a seamless system of our knowledge linked to those of other domains.


This is a huge technical challenge, but by getting closer to technical
solutions, other issues become relevant, such as who is generating content,
how is content acknowledged and how is copyright and IPR handled.


This is especially important, since we now face for the first time a system,
which aims at being the mother of all the biodiversity information, the
Encyclopedia of Life which is playing the same game as the publishers of our
scientific knowledge. Being corporate, they care about the copyright and
IPR, and thus send out forms to transfer your rights to them. These are
individual licenses which often lead to the situation, that you loose all
rights, and thus we can not access our publications in an open way, be it as
open access or via self archiving.


Our community has to be more vigilant the way we operate in this realm. We
need to define what we want, and act accordingly. If we want to be able to
have open access to our data, we should not sign contract which do not allow
this. We have to negotiate individually and through whatever channels we
have, such as our societies, that we only provide the publishers the right
of the article for the specific publication they do, but that you can at
least self archive or deposit the publications in thematic repositories,
such as could be Zoobank.

Regarding access to databases, we have to be clear when we sign contracts
like a Creative Commons license with institutions like EOL. Should they have
the right to develop commercial products? Should they use a share a like
license? If they want to produce commercial products, how is assured that
the revenues are shared, or do you not mind? Should we allow individual
contracts which at the end need zillions of lawyers? BHL is spending
considerable amount of time to resolve all this existing contracts, so do
all of the institutional repositories, and which seems clearly not something
we want to initiate.


Regarding participation in initiatives which live on our data, it needs to
be clear what each of the parties does. Do you build on the assumption, that
you do not mind that one party is patenting some of the programs or should
all what they do open source? For example, if UBIO at Woods Hole is
patenting their taxonomic infrastructure, can we agree to that? 


We need a debate about this, and we should not let EOL go ahead, especially
since many of us hope that it is a step closer to an open access
infrastructure for biodiversity information. To signs right now are that we
run into a lot of troubles and unease if we continue with what is happening
right now, that is listen to the corporate lawyers and not of what we as a
community really want.


So, before you sign any contracts, think twice. The publishers need your
content, especially if it went through peer review. EOL needs our content,
so you do not have to sign whatever you get offered. A discussion within
bodies like TDWG would be very timely and useful.





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