[Taxacom] copyright, scientific names compilations of scientific names

Chris Thompson xelaalex at cox.net
Fri Feb 7 11:51:21 CST 2014


Yes, copyright and intellectual property rights are different.

Copyright, depending where one resides, may different, but is basically a 
legal process where one asserts their rights for creating something, etc. 
And given that they do that properly, they have a copyright and are legally 

Intellectual property rights are close, that is, one creates something, but 
differ in the sense that there is no formal procedure to asserting one's 
rights***. Yes, intellectual property rights are supposedly protected under 
the ethical standards of Science.

That is, if there is something that some one "published / created" that 
another copied WITHOUT attribution, that is simply plagiarism, a violation 
of scientific ethical standards.

Unfortunately, plagiarism is common and widespread, and on the whole the 
community does nothing about it.

In the USA, scientific ethical standards are set minimally by the National 
Science Foundation, but while they provide a standard, there is no 
enforcement. That is, if one plagiarizes, then one should not be eligible 
for USA government funding, etc. Unfortunately, NSF and other organizations 
simply want to hid the ugly truth, so virtually all plagiarism goes 
"officially unnoticed."

On compilations: These take lots of effort, meaning time and money, to make. 
BUT yes, the USA declared that a telephone directory did not represent any 
form of creativity and therefore could not be protected under our (USA) 
copyright laws. BUT that is simply copyright law. To copy some one else's 
compilation is plagiarism. AND as the creator and maintainer of the Systema 
Dipterorum (see www.diptera.org) I will tell you a good compilation is more 
than merely copying and does include some intellectually creativity. BUT in 
anycase, simply downloading Systema Dipterorum or Species2000 or EoL, etc., 
without attribution is plagiarism. And what is worst, then claiming unique 
attributes so one can get funding ($$$) is fraud in my opinion.

Plagiarism is the corruption of Academia. It is common, widespread, etc., 
but no one wants to deal with it.

***An example. For years, I was an US Government employee, hence, my work 
was under the Constitution, etc., without copyright as it belongs to the 
people, etc. As a researcher, I provided to individual, groups, etc., the 
results of my research on flower flies. I have a system where when I 
recognize what I think is an unrecognized species, I assign it a code 
designation. This code designation is used in diagnostic keys, etc., which 
have been publically distributed. However, some individuals use my keys, 
accept my species concepts, but then publish the new species without any 
attribution. And in many cases, they studied and designated the same 
specimens that I had studied and labeled (that is because I am curator at 
the Smithsonian and our collections are publically available). But that is 
simply plagiarism but no one cares.

Oh, well ...



from home

-----Original Message----- 
From: Richard Zander
Sent: Wednesday, February 05, 2014 9:32 AM
To: Donat Agosti ; taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
Subject: Re: [Taxacom] copyright, scientific names compilations of 
scientific names

This is a little confusing. The copyright and intellectual rights do 
overlap, yet surely there is a clear difference. One may lack copyright but 
possess intellectual rights. Where is that addressed?


Richard H. Zander
Missouri Botanical Garden, PO Box 299, St. Louis, MO 63166-0299 USA
Web sites: http://www.mobot.org/plantscience/resbot/ and 
Evol. Syst.: http://www.mobot.org/plantscience/resbot/EvSy/Intro.htm
UPS and FedExpr -  Missouri Botanical Garden, 4344 Shaw Blvd, St. Louis MO 
63110 USA

-----Original Message-----
From: taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu 
[mailto:taxacom-bounces at mailman.nhm.ku.edu] On Behalf Of Donat Agosti
Sent: Wednesday, February 05, 2014 3:06 AM
To: taxacom at mailman.nhm.ku.edu
Subject: [Taxacom] copyright, scientific names compilations of scientific 

Dear colleagues

Here is the link to our latest contribution to the ongoing discussion on 
copyright in the realm of taxonomy: 

As biological disciplines extend into the 'big data' world, they will need a 
names-based infrastructure to index and interconnect distributed data. The 
infrastructure must have access to all names of all organisms if it is to 
manage all information. Those who compile lists of species hold different 
views as to the intellectual property rights that apply to the lists. This 
creates uncertainty that impedes the development of a much-needed 
infrastructure for sharing biological data in the digital world.
Findings: The laws in the United States of America and European Union are 
consistent with the position that scientific names of organisms and their 
compilation in checklists, classifications or taxonomic revisions are not 
subject to copyright. Compilations of names, such as classifications or 
checklists, are not creative in the sense of copyright law. Many content 
providers desire credit for their efforts.
A 'blue list' identifies elements of checklists, classifications and 
monographs to which intellectual property rights do not apply. To promote 
sharing, authors of taxonomic content, compilers, intermediaries, and 
aggregators should receive citable recognition for their contributions, with 
the greatest recognition being given to the originating authors. Mechanisms 
for achieving this are discussed.
Best regards


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