[Taxacom] Botanical Plagiarism

Stephen Thorpe stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz
Mon Mar 11 19:54:23 CDT 2013

Yes, this is right, as far as it goes, though it may be slightly naive in that, in reality, the "standing" of a scientist in the eyes of their institutional employer depends more on how much $$$ they bring in, and what they actually do in order to achieve this is secondary. So, sometimes taxonomists, with the backing of their institutions, push the limits of "copyright ethics" in various ways. A very recent example from this neck of the woods is a small taxonomic revision which has been padded out to fit into a monographic series, by inclusion of an awful lot of "filler" derived from very recently published taxonomic work by others, and simply just "cataloguifying" it, so that it fits the format of a previous catalogue, and adding distribution maps and images (taken again of different specimens) of all the species, whether they are part of the revision proper or just recently published elsewhere. Ethics is *such* a continuum ...

From: Gregor Hagedorn <g.m.hagedorn at gmail.com>
To: Richard Pyle <deepreef at bishopmuseum.org> 
Cc: Stephen Thorpe <stephen_thorpe at yahoo.co.nz>; Robin Leech <releech at telus.net>; Mark J. Costello <markcost at gmail.com>; TAXACOM <taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu> 
Sent: Tuesday, 12 March 2013 1:20 PM
Subject: Re: [Taxacom] Botanical Plagiarism

On 12 March 2013 01:00, Richard Pyle <deepreef at bishopmuseum.org> wrote:
> 1) Ripping off an entire regional checklist from someone else and
> reproducing it verbatim as though it was new original work, is something
> that our community should scorn (whatever the legalities of copyright are).

Correct. There are moral rights and good practices. You can loose your
academic status if you not cite your sources, COMPLETELY REGARDLESS of
whether it is a copyright violation. Often it is not. I would say: a
novelist or poet should focus on copyright, a scientist should focus
on the codes of practice of science. The two are not the same.


One correction: there seem to be general assumption in this thread
that "opinion" is copyrightable. Under international law this is NOT

Basically, it would be copyrightable if it would be just a very
creative, largely unsupported opinion. But then you loose your status
as a scientist. If you carefully analyse the available information and
form an educated scientific opinion which you do or can argue about
the reasoning, then this is not creative. It very hard work, it is
excellent and valuable work, but not creative in the sense of
copyright according to the Berne Convention.

Einstein with his invention was "creative" in the sense of thinking in
new ways, it was hard work elaborating them, but the theories are NOT
copyrighted, they are not "creative" in the sense of Copyright.


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