[Taxacom] Completion of 'The Plant List'

Roderic Page r.page at bio.gla.ac.uk
Thu Dec 30 07:33:19 CST 2010

Dear Paul,

On 30 Dec 2010, at 12:45, Paul van Rijckevorsel wrote:

> From: "Roderic Page" <r.page at bio.gla.ac.uk>
> Sent: Wednesday, December 29, 2010 8:26 PM
>> Nice data set, shame about the license. By using a Creative Commons  
>> CC
>> BY-NC-ND license, Kew and MOBOT have effectively killed the
>> possibility of anybody building upon this data (see my blog post
>> http://iphylo.blogspot.com/2010/12/plant-list-nice-data-shame-it-not-open.html
> ***
> I do not see why this should not be a perfectly respectable choice.
> Of course, it always is nice if everything you want is offered free  
> to you,
> whenever you want it, but it is shortsighted to expect this to happen,
> or to ignore the risks.

People making data available are, of course, free to choose whatever  
license they see fit (although the typical Creative Commons licenses  
don't really fit, see http://bibwild.wordpress.com/2008/11/24/creative-commons-is-not-appropriate-for-data 
  ). I suspect that if someone dug deep into the sources of the data,  
funding, etc., it would be hard to defend a  Creative Commons license  
for this list.

But , leaving that aside, why expressly prevent people building on  
your work? To me It speaks either of fear ("people will take 'my' data  
and do things with it") or arrogance ("the data is perfect, nobody can  
improve upon it"). It also speaks of a greater concern for data  
providers ("we invested a lot of effort in gathering this data") than  
data users. I would argue this attitude is crippling biodiversity  
informatics. Compare this with, say, GenBank or Wikipedia, which  
people are downloading and doing amazing things with, because they  
can. The Plant List has killed the possibility of people doing  
interesting things with the data.  I think it's a stunningly short  
sighted decision.

> Every license has its disadvantages; Wikipedia has a very free  
> license,
> and look how badly that holds that project back ...

In what way does Wikipedia's licensing hold it back? There are some  
things that do come to mind, such as not using content that is CC BY- 
NC-SA, which rules out a lot of Flickr images, for example. Is this  
what you have in mind? Given how widespread Wikipedia content has  
become (for example, being reused by the BBC, by EOL, or by http://protectedplanet.net/ 



> Paul
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Roderic Page
Professor of Taxonomy
Institute of Biodiversity, Animal Health and Comparative Medicine
College of Medical, Veterinary and Life Sciences
Graham Kerr Building
University of Glasgow
Glasgow G12 8QQ, UK

Email: r.page at bio.gla.ac.uk
Tel: +44 141 330 4778
Fax: +44 141 330 2792
AIM: rodpage1962 at aim.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1112517192
Twitter: http://twitter.com/rdmpage
Blog: http://iphylo.blogspot.com
Home page: http://taxonomy.zoology.gla.ac.uk/rod/rod.html

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