[Taxacom] IPBES: a new challenge (not for cynics)

Francisco Welter-Schultes fwelter at gwdg.de
Tue Jan 11 14:42:00 CST 2011

If you don't have the copyright you cannot scan and extract data in 
a way that we could really work with it.

I can imagine that BHL libraries would easily obtain funds for 
digitising literature from the past decades, once this would be 
allowed. Including all present-day usual standards such as OCR and 
stuff. We do have the literature resources. Technically everything 
can be done with the technologies we have. We went through a hard 
school with all the old pre-1900 literature, we are in the possession 
of good tools, technically the best preconditions to start with the 
much easier (in terms of print quality) recent literature. Instead we 
are forced to sit around and do nothing, or spend enormeous funds for 
trying to negotiate with potential IP right holders of every single 
publication that appeared after 1920. 

And if there is no public pressure on right holders to release their 
stuff into the public domain, the job will not become easier.

If there is no public conscience that a scientific publication from 
1960 must by default be regarded as public domain, it will be 
extremely much more difficult to get Donat's dreams become true.

> Another lesson from our
> community is to make it mandatory to publish Open access. 

Dreams like these. Trying to change the system. Challenging basic 
rules of economic conditions in which we live and publish. 
Why not trying to change something within the system? 

Would be a completely different situation if there was an 
international convention proposed by a UN body that after 10 years 
all scientific publications would by default be released into the 
public domain. Or all biodiversity related scientific publications. 
Publishers can make their money in the first 10 years, which is 
what they usually do, and the rest is open.

As a taxonomist I personally would have no problem if I had no free 
access to papers younger than 10 years. Of most papers that appeared 
in this time I have the PDF anyway, and for the others waiting 10 
years would be tolerable in the light of the speed we are used to 
in malacology...

University of Goettingen, Germany

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