[Taxacom] Botanical Plagiarism

Arthur Chapman taxacom3 at achapman.org
Thu Mar 7 15:26:44 CST 2013

One of the key issues here, Stephen, is that there is no attribution.

I have not seen the books, but I understand they include lots of 
photographs as well as text and the attribution information has been 
removed.  A lot of the Creative Commons licensing for those images 
includes "non Commercial" and this person is selling them. Most people 
respect the CC licensing, and if it gets abused too often, then the 
images won't be made available at all.  Copyright, and Creative Commons 
licensing is largely a matter of trust - trust that people will do the 
right thing and most do. Very few (especially in the science world) ever 
get taken to court over breaches. The key tool we have is public opinion 
and this can be quickly whipped up on the Internet.  Already in this 
case, the perpetrator has removed the books from certain sites.  It is 
the publishers of this information that haven't followed due 
diligenceand allowed them to be published in the first instance.

Publishing this information as original research and not acknowledging 
the originals is reprehensible.


On 8/03/2013 8:12 AM, Stephen Thorpe wrote:
> 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...)
> Stephen
> *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
> http://stories.rbge.org.uk/archives/1321
> Arthur D. Chapman
> Ballan, Australia
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