[Taxacom] Botanical Plagiarism

Geoff Read gread at actrix.gen.nz
Mon Mar 11 16:37:01 CDT 2013

Stephen wrote: "Sites like WoRMS just have to take it on the chin, if
someone rips off their "hard work" ..."

Well it can be very hard work Stephen as you would know, although you seem
to concentrate mostly on new names handed out by current publishers which
can usually be taken as is.

In the case of WoRMS someone could copy only the lists of taxa names and
their validities without acknowledgement, and who would care. WoRMS is
there to facilitate people doing that. However, if they also reproduced
the exact structure, or included the intermittent accompanying
idiosyncratic comments, explanations, and annotations of the editors it
would be very obvious plagiarism, as in the botany book instance.


On Tue, March 12, 2013 8:59 am, Stephen Thorpe wrote:
> Mark Costello wrote:
>>I understand that while individual facts cannot be copyrighted, original
>> compilations can (e.g. a species list within some context).<
> I'm not so sure! Certainly not in a global context, nor in a regional
> (country or provincial) context. Maybe for some particular private reserve
> or something? Going back to the global or country context, you cannot
> copyright the fauna or flora (in the sense of a species list thereof)!
> Suppose the country of "Costelloland" only has one species, Markus
> biodiversitatis ... a described species. Suppose I make a website on the
> biota of Costelloland. Can I copyright that? I think not! The issue isn't
> just that there is only a single species. It is rather that I can get the
> information straight from primary sources (in this case the original
> description of the species). Nobody can tell if I got the name from the
> original description or from the secondary website ...
> Stephen
> From: Mark J. Costello <markcost at gmail.com>
> To: 'TAXACOM' <taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu>
> Sent: Monday, 11 March 2013 10:28 PM
> Subject: Re: [Taxacom] Botanical Plagiarism
> I understand that while individual facts cannot be copyrighted, original
> compilations can (e.g. a species list within some context). However,
> images
> are not really facts and each one can be copyrighted (as they usually
> are).
> Attribution is good practice but only required if the CC or other
> 'permission' required it. I think this is why it is important to ascertain
> and keep copyright so the holder can then formally complain about a breach
> of the licence of use.
> We had a World Register of Marine Species (WoRMS) database downloaded and
> published as a book, for sale on Amazon. As owner of the IP and copyright
> of
> the WoRMS content, our society formally complained to the publisher who
> removed it from their publication list in 2 weeks without further comment.
> One of our colleagues wrote a book review on Amazon pointing out the
> source
> of the book and that its content, now updated, was available for free
> online. I am not sure if we would have had such good grounds to complain
> if
> the author had actually attributed the source of the content because
> arguably the re-organisation of the facts would have been a new creation.
> The only thing WoRMS asks users to do is cite the source (e.g. web page,
> database as a whole) and the citation is at the foot of every page. Still
> many scientists do not do so :)
> Best wishes
> Mark
> -----Original Message-----
> From: taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
> [mailto:taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu] On Behalf Of Arthur Chapman
> Sent: Friday, 8 March 2013 9:43 a.m.
> 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

More information about the Taxacom mailing list