[Taxacom] Botanical Plagiarism

Stephen Thorpe stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz
Thu Mar 7 15:12:45 CST 2013

There are several distinct issues here which should be kept apart:
(1) Internet publishing of original material; vs.
(2) Internet publishing of data compilation;
(2a) Internet publishing of taxonomic names and associated information.
(1) is surely no different to publishing the same content in a traditional hard copy book or paper? The same rules of copyright should apply. If a library has unrestricted walk in access, and pay photocopiers, then this is no different to the book or paper being posted on the web for all to read. So, whatever laws apply to books/papers should apply to the same material posted on the web.
(2) this is the real issue from the perspective of biodiversity databases. Typically, they do not contain original material, just a compilation of existing data. Some datasets may be subject to copyright, I don't know, but taxonomic names and certain associated information surely should not be and indeed aren't? Of course, we are starting to see people publishing such compilations in hard copy, as their own work, when it is just copied from the web, but surely the responsibility is on publishers not to let this stuff be published, as it is just a pointless waste of time. What is more of a worry, and something that is increasingly rife in this neck of the woods anyway, is supposedly reputable institutions doing effectively this, but passing it off as bona fide publicly funded research! So, for example, a small taxonomic revision gets padded out to look monographic, just by copying in stuff from a previous publication and/or an existing website (typically
 by the same authors, but nevertheless...)

From: Arthur Chapman <taxacom3 at achapman.org>
To: TAXACOM <taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu> 
Sent: Friday, 8 March 2013 9:42 AM
Subject: [Taxacom] Botanical Plagiarism

The following blog by Mark Watson about some botanical books that have 
been appearing recently - all derived from internet sources without 
attribution.may be of interest


Arthur D. Chapman
Ballan, Australia
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