[Taxacom] Your input, please, on attribution, rights and lic...

Stephen Thorpe stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz
Tue Mar 5 18:42:50 CST 2013

In the real world I suspect outfits like CoL etc. will overstate their actual legal rights in order to constrain use of their data by others in ways they might not be completely happy with. There are now hundreds of pages on Wikispecies which cite CoL, e.g. http://species.wikimedia.org/wiki/Osmia, without "permission". The Wikispecies page links to the relevant CoL page. This means that it attracts traffic to CoL. Anybody who clicks the link on the WS page gets directed to CoL, and CoL gets a hiit on their website. This is all good for CoL! I very much doubt whether they would object to this, and, if they did, then I very much doubt that it would be enforceable. At any rate, the links could be replaced by links to EoL, who harvest from CoL...

From: "Tony.Rees at csiro.au" <Tony.Rees at csiro.au>
To: mesibov at southcom.com.au 
Cc: taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu 
Sent: Wednesday, 6 March 2013 1:01 PM
Subject: Re: [Taxacom] Your input, please, on attribution, rights and lic...

Hi Bob,

There is a big difference between Catalogue of Life's Terms of use and true open access; also a related question about whether copyright exists in lists of names.

For a start, CoL asserts copyright over its compilation:
> © 2013, Species 2000
> This online database is copyrighted by Species 2000 on behalf of the Catalogue of Life partners

Second, commercial re-use is specifically excluded except with a written agreement from Species 2000 and ITIS;

Third, re-use on a public portal or webpage also requires written permission.

Re WoRMS: I am not responsible for their data policy (although I have made some very small contributions to WoRMS content). Their policy is as follows: (from http://www.marinespecies.org/about.php) 

"Unless otherwise stated, these web pages and associated information are free to use on condition that they are cited (CC-BY). A recommended citation style is provided on each page. We do not permit the re-distribution of the entire database unless by prior written agreement."

The first part of this statement is perfectly satisfactory, but you will again note that they do not freely distribute their entire content without permission (in contrast to the ITIS, GRIN examples previously cited).

FYI one definition of Open Access may be found here:


SPARC supports the Budapest definition of Open Access: 
"By open access, we mean its immediate, free availability on the public internet, permitting any users to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search or link to the full text of these articles, crawl them for indexing, pass them as data to software or use them for any other lawful purpose."

In the taxonomic data context I would imagine the parallel would be the ability to freely download and re-use all the content, not just individual parts of it, and without the requirement to request written permission to do so.

Regards - Tony

Tony Rees
Manager, Divisional Data Centre,
CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research,
GPO Box 1538,
Hobart, Tasmania 7001, Australia
Ph: 0362 325318 (Int: +61 362 325318)
Fax: 0362 325000 (Int: +61 362 325000)
e-mail: Tony.Rees at csiro.au
Manager, OBIS Australia regional node, http://www.obis.org.au/
Biodiversity informatics research activities: http://www.cmar.csiro.au/datacentre/biodiversity.htm
Personal info: http://www.fishbase.org/collaborators/collaboratorsummary.cfm?id=1566
LinkedIn profile: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/tony-rees/18/770/36

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Robert Mesibov [mailto:mesibov at southcom.com.au]
> Sent: Wednesday, 6 March 2013 10:49 AM
> To: Rees, Tony (CMAR, Hobart)
> Subject: Re: [Taxacom] Your input, please, on attribution, rights and
> lic...
> Tony, I don't see the point that Stephen is supposed to be missing.
> Look at CoL's copyright page, and you can see that it 'requires' 3-
> level attribution. Now go to Encyclopedia of Life - any species page
> based on CoL. Where's the 3-level attribution? Maybe EoL is in a
> special relationship with CoL, and doesn't need the attribution that
> ordinary humans are supposed to use. What should a re-user of EoL data
> do?
> What about your own WoRMS? You contribute to/assist/backend top-down
> aggregators. How many of them reproduce this:
> 'Terms of Use and Citation
> Unless otherwise stated, these web pages and associated information are
> free to use on condition that they are cited (CC-BY). A recommended
> citation style is provided on each page. We do not permit the re-
> distribution of the entire database unless by prior written agreement.
> Copies of the database may be requested using this form.
> You can also cite the individual global or regional species lists as
> appropriate. Their citations are shown on their web pages.
> The database as a whole is to be cited as follows:
> Appeltans W, Bouchet P, Boxshall GA, De Broyer C, de Voogd NJ, Gordon
> DP, Hoeksema BW, Horton T, Kennedy M, Mees J, Poore GCB, Read G, Stöhr
> S, Walter TC, Costello MJ. (eds) (2012). World Register of Marine
> Species. Accessed at http://www.marinespecies.org/ on 2013-03-06.'
> --
> Dr Robert Mesibov
> Honorary Research Associate
> Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery, and
> School of Agricultural Science, University of Tasmania
> Home contact: PO Box 101, Penguin, Tasmania, Australia 7316
> Ph: (03) 64371195; 61 3 64371195

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