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

Dr Brian Taylor dr.brian.taylor at ntlworld.com
Wed Jan 12 06:26:03 CST 2011


What you say is very true but not too long ago I posted the following on
Taxacom -

"The liberation of dissemination and availability of literature that should
have become cheap and easy has been frustrated by publishers demanding large
sums of money for publication and for access.

I spent many years working in developing (poor) countries and now have
developed entirely free to access and (from the many contacts) very
successful websites on ants.  What I have found, however, is that vested
interests and "anonymous referees" have blocked several submissions of a
more formal nature on ant taxonomy.  On ³peer review² for taxonomy, at
least, synonymy will counter duplicate names.  I emailed quite recently to
Zoobank suggesting registration of new species accompanied by deposition of
(say) a pdf with them seems a very sensible solution to prevent later
changes to an original description.

If and when the ICZN pulls its finger(s) out, perhaps commonsense will

Some one suggested Zookeys to me but the page charges are horrendous for
someone, in my case retired, without access to any substantial external
funding.  Zoobank may not charge for monochrome images but try the
sensible/essential modern colour photos!"

My website on African ants that you kindly support has open, free, access,
to all my observations.  However, this time last year, I recall, you among
others, told me my descriptions of new species were invalid as not complying
with the ICZN Code. Discussion of a new code seems to have died/stalled with
the sceptics and I am starting to feel that VOLUNTARY code perhaps should
become extinct if the ICZN cannot move with the times.

Zoobank did not reply.

My website now is archived by the British Library, so posterity is not
something I see as a problem.


On 12/01/2011 04:57, "agosti" <agosti at amnh.org> wrote:

> "If you don't have the copyright you cannot scan and extract data in
> a way that we could really work with it"
> This is not true. The descriptions or treatments are not protected by
> copyright law. So you can extract and reuse them. (see Agosti and Egloff,
> 2009. http://www.biomedcentral.com/1756-0500/2/53). Whether you are allowed
> to make temporary copies to extract content is at least legal in
> Switzerland, that's why one should run these operations from within
> Switzerland.
> We can change the way we operate. Many of the natural history publications
> from the developing world are open access. The journals from the American
> Museum of Natural History are open access. Zookeys is open access and even
> uses advanced xml technology so you can extract straight away the
> treatments, and disseminate them as widely as you want.
> This does not mean we have to change the laws - but we should and make
> efforts to distinguish public funded science publication from other
> commercial publications.
> But what we can't is hide between the statement that there is copyright law
> and thus we can not do anything. We can also not hide between the legacy
> literature but must look forward to avoid this pitfall. The simplest is
> right now to publish in open access journals or at least in those that allow
> to self-archive. 
> But the future, and the one where we might have a place is when we publish
> right from begin in a way that machine can read and reason over what we
> publish. This is when a connection between other fields and ours are being
> made. Not when we have to read through a pdf and extract data by hand one
> pdf after one pdf. You can see how examples of this
> http://pensoftonline.net/zookeys/index.php/journal/announcement/view/18 ;
> extracting data from legacy publication is either dirty and relatively fast
> or very painstaking and slow.
> This would save all these BHL operations, the endless discussion of
> copyright and not least the decline of taxonomy. These way we could see
> whether we find a place in the global biodiversity assessment that underpin
> IPBES. And I think, we are a key player in this.
> Donat
> 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...
> Francisco
> University of Goettingen, Germany
> www.animalbase.org
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