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

Robert Mesibov mesibov at southcom.com.au
Wed Mar 6 19:36:24 CST 2013

Mark Costello wrote:

"A key reason not to give an entire database away (but make its items of content open-access online) is the real concern that another group will get funding that is based on the database but not return any funds to its creators and developers to help them continue it."

The excellent WoRMS (Mark Costello is Steering Committee chair (http://www.marinespecies.org/about.php)) is open about its funding (http://www.marinespecies.org/sponsors.php), gives credit its specialist volunteers for the many hours they've put in to making WoRMS so good, and even asks potential funders to 'Please consider sponsoring our taxonomic experts'. WoRMS also emphasises that 'All WoRMS content is open-access and available at no charge'.

So WoRMS doesn't have commercial arrangements with compilers that might re-use its data? WoRMS draws from many other, mainly taxon-specific databases. Does it pay for the re-use of data taken from those sources, to 'help them continue it'?

I'd be interested to see public disclosure of some other arrangements, too. Let's take the well-funded EoL as an example. EoL currently lists more than 200 'content partners' which share information with EoL, and get 'services' in return (http://eol.org/info/partners). Do any content partners also get direct funding from EoL? EoL uses CoL as its 'taxonomic backbone'. How much does EoL pay CoL annually for that taxonomic service?

Being ignorant of the details, I get the impression that arrangements between content providers and re-users vary a lot, and maybe one goal of the upcoming workshop (announced at the start of this thread) is to regularise arrangements by moving towards a legal framework and a recognised marketplace for trading in scientific names, as we already have for plant varieties.

Mark Costello (quoted above) is interested in fairness, but IP lawyers are interested in making money. If the search for a proper legal framework for biodiversity data use and re-use gets properly under way, someone should keep a record of its legal costs, in ICZN-monthly-expenses units.
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

More information about the Taxacom mailing list