[Taxacom] BHL and print on demand publishers: defintion of "work"

Donat Agosti agosti at amnh.org
Mon Apr 2 11:45:45 CDT 2012

> Another point is to ask, as Rod did, what qualifies as work. We would 

> argue not a nomenclaturial act, not a description nor an entire 

> treatments. They are not creative works in the legal sense but follow 

> a standard language and terminology, are often pee-reviewed, underlie 

> a long tradition, often going back to 1758 and tens to hundreds of 

> millions of them are out there (see Agosti and Egloff, 2009:
http://www.biomedcentral.com/1756-0500/2/53 ).


I don't accept this argument. The systematist who creates a nomenclatural
description chooses among the characters available; a different systematist
would likely choose differently, resulting in a different description. If we
are more than just automatons, our work has to be seen as a creative act,
and thus subject to copyright. To argue otherwise solely for the purpose of
freeing these works from restriction is short-sighted, because it deprecates
the role of the investigator.


DA: This is not solely for the purpose of freeing these works. This is a
legal interpretation and not a scientists point of view.

If we are scientists, and at the end even we taxonomists believe we are,
then we talk about testatable or refutable hypothesis. A description is part
of the circumscription of a hypothesis (eg the species as seen in the
respective publication) that has to include those elements that separate it
from others (diagnosis) that are facts. It is not because of the creative
act that you use a character or another, but because of the discovery
process that lead to discover this fact.

In fact we are to some extend automatons, part of the systems that describe
and redescribe the ca 1.8 million species resulting in a multiple of
descriptions. We even fight in this list whether peer review out be part of
the publishing process, especially now in the age of e-publications.

The role of the scientist is to discover the new species and higher taxa;
the description is a routine process to publish and communicate the
discovery. The trend today is to create character matrices and ontologies,
which exactly stress the point, that we believe in a system that we all
share, not a create process with a lot of individual freedoms, and one tha
allows to make comparisons over large scales.

We do not describe our species in terms of values such as a nice or nicer,
lovely species nor in poems.





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