Topic 3: GUIDs for Taxon Names and Taxon Concepts

Roderic Page at BIO.GLA.AC.UK
Mon Dec 12 20:45:25 CET 2005

A quick comment:

> 6. Would there be any social or technical roadblocks to replacing  
> these identifiers with a single identifier that was guaranteed to be  
> unique?
> Yes. We are the creators and maintainers of both nomenclatural and  
> taxonomic data. We would be unhappy about any resolution mechanism  
> that didn't acknowldge our IP in that process. For example, if the  
> LSID contained another organisation's namespace when we were the  
> originators/editors of that entity.

Leaving aside the awful term "Intellectual Property" -- which should be  
avoided like the plague (see ) -- this strikes me as an  
issue handled by metadata, not the GUID itself. For example, there are  
vocabularies such as Dublin Core (, or even  
better, Creative Commons ( which can handle  
these issues. I'd strongly favour the later, as Creative Commons  
licenses are designed to be computer-readable, and hence can be handled  
automatically. If a license has to be read by a human, we're shooting  
ourselves in the foot.

I understand that people want credit for their hard work, but this  
shouldn't get in the way of a workable system. Imagine if everybody  
submitting a sequence to GenBank insisted on their organisation's  
namespace being in the GenBank accession number! It would be a utter  
mess. In the same way, with DOIs even the mighty Elsevier don't mind  
that the DOI has nothing that (explicitly) identifies them as the  

Please let us not let "Intellectual Property" get in the way of a  
sensible solution. To my mind "IP" is one of the biggest obstacles in  
the way of biodiversity informatics achieving its potential.



Professor Roderic D. M. Page
Editor, Systematic Biology
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University of Glasgow
Glasgow G12 8QP
United Kingdom

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