[Taxacom] scientific illustrations and access

Tim Dickinson tim.dickinson at utoronto.ca
Tue Mar 14 14:33:41 CDT 2017

In the EurekaAlert posting, Donat et al. are quoted as saying, " Often 
it is necessary to use images to demonstrate characteristic traits and 
morphological differences or similarities. In this role, the images are 
best seen as biodiversity data rather than artwork. According to the 
authors, this puts them outside the scope, purposes and principles of 
Copyright. Moreover, such images are most useful when they are presented 
in a standardized fashion, and lack the artistic creativity that would 
otherwise make them 'copyrightable works'."

Scientific illustrators are not cameras, and don't work for the cost of 
a point-and-shoot camera and a copy of Photoshop. Systematists have to 
find the funds with which to pay the artists who illustrate their work, 
and the artists in turn may be relying on their illustrations to subsist 
and remain active as illustrators. The claim that scientific 
illustrations are, or should be, in the public domain as a matter of 
fiat is immoral. If scientists (and their publishers) wish to adorn 
their publications with beautiful, scientifically correct artwork they 
should pay for the privilege of using the work of others whether in the 
form of royalties or reimbursements to institutions that take 
responsibility for preserving scientific literature. Failing that, they 
can cite the publications in which the illustrations in question 
appeared, or they can make their own.

We are fortunate to live in a time when, if "traipsing to a library"  is 
not possible, then online access may be, thanks to initiatives like the 
Biodiversity Heritage Library. Let's keep online access something that 
levels the playing field for students and workers around the world, and 
not give publishers the opportunity to sequester scientifically 
important imagery behind paywalls.


<Tim Dickinson
<Senior Curator Emeritus
<ROM Green Plant Herbarium (TRT)
<Department of Natural History
<Royal Ontario Museum
<100 Queen's Park
<Toronto  ON
<Phone:  (416) 586 8032     FAX:  (416) 586 7921
<E-mail:  tim.dickinson at utoronto.ca
<URL: http://www.rom.on.ca/en/collections-research/rom-staff/tim-dickinson
<URL: http://www.eeb.utoronto.ca/people/d-faculty/Dickinson.htm?quot;%20title=

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