[tdwg] copyright, creative commons licences, etc.

Gail Kampmeier gkamp at uiuc.edu
Fri Sep 14 15:25:31 CEST 2007

I think these are really important issues and I hope they will have 
discussion time at the upcoming meeting in Bratislava.  --Gail

>Actually, here is an interesting article in yesterdays press.co.nz regarding
>open access
>An information revolution
>The Press | Thursday, 13 September 2007
>New Zealand scientists need to get aboard the coming revolution in
>information access, writes DAVID PENMAN.
>Social networking, data modelling, real-time measurement, broadband and so
>on are all bound in the internet age.
>It is somewhat ironic that the internet was conceived as a means to share
>scientific data, yet it is now an enormous vehicle for social change and
>commercial benefit. Somehow, the scientists have become the laggards in
>sharing information, yet there are enormous benefits that can come from a
>greater sharing of data.
>We see public sharing of financial data - the stock market, the exchange
>rate and interest rates - yet we see little evidence of open sharing of
>other information that affects our lives.
>ECan has some pilot projects in real-time monitoring of water resources that
>water users and communities can access. Wouldn't it be fantastic to roll out
>such a system across Canterbury and make the information freely and openly
>available to all? Can we not envisage information on water use, water
>quality, greenhouse gas emissions, public transport use, air quality, waste
>generation etc being available on television, the internet or even in
>Cathedral Square? Is this the sort of information we need to change our
>behaviour in the drive for sustainability?
>Why can't we just do it, then? We require an information infrastructure. We
>can now share data at least among research active institutions through
>Karen, the "big pipe" broadband; we can store vast amounts of data in
>networked servers and now in the new IBM supercomputer "Blue Fern" at the
>University of Canterbury; we can model and visualise current states and
>future scenarios; and the technology to do real-time measurements is
>becoming available. Right now, most information is accessed from so-called
>legacy data. The next revolution will be real-time data collection and
>So we have most of the bits; we just need the resources and the will to
>bring the pieces together. From this platform, new businesses will emerge
>and communities will become engaged with the regulators (the councils), the
>scientists, and businesses.
>No longer will officials be able to hide behind the lack of resources to
>measure use and change. We will have scientific evidence of what change
>might look like before decisions are taken, and we will become more involved
>as citizens in a civil society with what our politicians and officials are
>Yes, we will take ownership of information about us, our communities and the
>impacts of our activities. Because we can "own" and visualise information we
>will be able to use it in an active democracy. The information embedded
>behind each pixel on your screen should be yours and you should be confident
>that it is scientifically robust and freely available.
>Open Access is a rapidly growing movement committed to making data openly
>and freely available. Where data are generated using taxpayers funds, it
>should be made openly and freely available. This is now a requirement for
>some of the major US and European science funds. Basically scientists will
>have two years to publish papers based on their data, and then the data
>become available to others. Many journals now require authors to at least
>indicate where the raw data may be located.
>The internet then becomes what it was intended to be - a means to share
>scientific data.
>So what is the situation in New Zealand? Our scientific institutions have
>been required to make data publicly available at the cost of access if the
>information was contained within a designated "nationally significant
>database or collection" and only if the request was for a "public good"
>purpose. If a commercial product might emerge, then an agreement to pay a
>commercial rate was negotiated. Other data from publicly-funded research are
>not generally available.
>The great temptation for institutions is to hold the data because it might
>be commercially significant. In a few cases this may be so, but mostly there
>is a false sense of value of individual data sets. Experience tells us that
>the real value comes from looking at multiple data sets in new ways and with
>new tools.
>The Foundation for Research, Science and Technology is now reviewing its
>data policy and moving towards the norm for the OECD - greater open access
>for publicly-funded data. Rather than the research provider deciding on
>access, all information is openly and freely available unless restrictions
>such as national security, environmental damage (eg, the GPS co-ordinates of
>threatened species), or clear commercial disadvantage can be justified.
>Our researchers will also have to change. No longer can they sit with filing
>cabinets full of data waiting for the definitive experiment or the life time
>monograph. Publish quickly in electronic media, make your data and models
>freely available and get rewards from both publishing and showing that your
>data are being used by others - this should become the norm.
>Many initiatives are now underway to liberate data. The Global Biodiversity
>Information Facility, of which New Zealand is a member, has just launched
>its new data access portal (www.data.gbif.org) and now makes over 130
>million records on species openly and freely available.
>The Encyclopedia of Life (www.eol.org) is making a webpage on every known
>species, and investments in monitoring networks such as Neon (Near Earth
>Observation Network) in the United States are providing real-time data to
>We are facing the new revolution and either we join now to lead developments
>or we find communities bypassing our scientists by accessing information in
>the social networks.
>Libraries are becoming available to all without leaving your home,
>information on your environment will become openly and freely available and
>communities will be able to use the internet to take more control of our
>institutions - a new style of democracy will emerge.
>* Professor David Penman is Assistant Pro Vice-Chancellor (Research) in the
>College of Science at the University of Canterbury. He also chairs the
>Governing Board of the Global Biodiversity Information Facility based in
>From: tdwg-bounces at lists.tdwg.org [mailto:tdwg-bounces at lists.tdwg.org] On
>Behalf Of Donat Agosti
>Sent: Friday, September 14, 2007 10:21 AM
>To: tdwg at lists.tdwg.org
>Subject: [tdwg] copyright, creative commons licences, etc.
>TDWG is about making data interoperable, thus leading, in the best case, to
>a seamless system of our knowledge linked to those of other domains.
>This is a huge technical challenge, but by getting closer to technical
>solutions, other issues become relevant, such as who is generating content,
>how is content acknowledged and how is copyright and IPR handled.
>This is especially important, since we now face for the first time a system,
>which aims at being the mother of all the biodiversity information, the
>Encyclopedia of Life which is playing the same game as the publishers of our
>scientific knowledge. Being corporate, they care about the copyright and
>IPR, and thus send out forms to transfer your rights to them. These are
>individual licenses which often lead to the situation, that you loose all
>rights, and thus we can not access our publications in an open way, be it as
>open access or via self archiving.
>Our community has to be more vigilant the way we operate in this realm. We
>need to define what we want, and act accordingly. If we want to be able to
>have open access to our data, we should not sign contract which do not allow
>this. We have to negotiate individually and through whatever channels we
>have, such as our societies, that we only provide the publishers the right
>of the article for the specific publication they do, but that you can at
>least self archive or deposit the publications in thematic repositories,
>such as could be Zoobank.
>Regarding access to databases, we have to be clear when we sign contracts
>like a Creative Commons license with institutions like EOL. Should they have
>the right to develop commercial products? Should they use a share a like
>license? If they want to produce commercial products, how is assured that
>the revenues are shared, or do you not mind? Should we allow individual
>contracts which at the end need zillions of lawyers? BHL is spending
>considerable amount of time to resolve all this existing contracts, so do
>all of the institutional repositories, and which seems clearly not something
>we want to initiate.
>Regarding participation in initiatives which live on our data, it needs to
>be clear what each of the parties does. Do you build on the assumption, that
>you do not mind that one party is patenting some of the programs or should
>all what they do open source? For example, if UBIO at Woods Hole is
>patenting their taxonomic infrastructure, can we agree to that?
>We need a debate about this, and we should not let EOL go ahead, especially
>since many of us hope that it is a step closer to an open access
>infrastructure for biodiversity information. To signs right now are that we
>run into a lot of troubles and unease if we continue with what is happening
>right now, that is listen to the corporate lawyers and not of what we as a
>community really want.
>So, before you sign any contracts, think twice. The publishers need your
>content, especially if it went through peer review. EOL needs our content,
>so you do not have to sign whatever you get offered. A discussion within
>bodies like TDWG would be very timely and useful.
>tdwg mailing list
>tdwg at lists.tdwg.org

When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to
everything else in the Universe"      --John Muir

Gail E. Kampmeier
Senior Research Entomologist
Illinois Natural History Survey,
Box 5 NSRC, MC-637
1101 W. Peabody, Urbana, IL 61801 USA
ph. 217-333-2824
fax 217-244-1707
email: gkamp at uiuc.edu

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