[Taxacom] Intellectual rights

Karl Magnacca kmagnacca at wesleyan.edu
Sun Dec 13 22:20:13 CST 2015

Richard Pyle wrote:
> Websites are definitely not considered as "published" in the sense
> of the ICZN Code.  There are formal rules established in the 2012
> Amendment to the Code associated with electronic publication.
> However, this discussion concerns taxonomy, not nomenclature, so
> what the Code regards as a publication is not very relevant.

Well, I would disagree in that there is some understanding that
taxonomic acts aren't recognized unless they are published in the
scientific literature.  While those three words ("published",
"scientific", and "literature") are extremely broad and subject to a
lot of varying interpretations, I would think that by pretty much
any definition, a constantly-evolving website (especially a personal
one), or a forum like Taxacom, doesn't qualify.  The Code is
relevant in the sense that its requirements for "publication" are in
many ways the bare minimum, albeit perhaps a little stricter on
electronic publications than most would be these days.

Unless the authors actually *plagiarized* the work from the website,
it's hard to see any recourse.  There's almost certainly a lack of
courtesy and professionalism in acknowledging it, but I think
there's an assumption that work put in public view but not published
in the literature - especially if it's been left in that state for
several years - is intellectually in the public domain (regarding
the synonymy), even if the actual content (text and pictures) is

It's no different from using gene sequences uploaded to Genbank. 
Something like this happened to me, where a collaborator
inadvertently uploaded an entire dataset we were working on, instead
of only the few he had used as outgroups in another paper.  Someone
else downloaded them and put out the same paper we were working on,
with no acknowledgement.  Such is life.


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