The authors of this paper and a similar paper (Donat Agosti & Willi 
Egloff, (2009) Taxonomic information exchange and copyright: the Plazi 
approach. /BMC Research Notes, 2/:53) are part of a "Swiss-based 
international non-profit association" (Wikipedia: Plazi) that is pushing 
hard for open access to all taxonomic literature. They also claim to 
adhere to copyright law but I question their interpretation of it.

On the Plazi website, Willi Egloff is listed a partner in a law firm in 
Bern, Switzerland as well as a Director of Plazi in charge of legal 
issues. There is no indication of what type of law he specializes in but 
I would be surprised if it was copyright law.

I agree with Emily that this article is disturbing. If GNSI responds, it 
should include input from someone who specialized in copyright 
law--minimally US copyright law. It would be great to get an 
international perspective on copyright and intellectual property as well.

Julianne Snider
Asst. Director
Earth and Mineral Sciences Museum & Art Gallery
116 Deike Bldg.
Penn State University
University Park PA 16802
[log in to unmask]

On 3/11/2017 6:28 PM, Emily S. Damstra wrote:
> Hi all,
> Glendon Mellow just brought  to my attention this journal article 
> about scientific images in scientific literature:
> A few pertinent quotes:
> "Standards in scientific imaging minimize creative variation to ensure 
> that the subject is represented in a consistent way and can be 
> integrated into the corpus of scientific literature. Because of the 
> need to comply with standards, we argue that such images lack 
> “sufficient individuality”, the central criterion used to determine if 
> an illustration qualifies as a “work” in the sense of copyright law."
> "Illustrations that follow predefined rules or conventions do not 
> qualify as copyrightable works. Illustrations of biological 
> information, especially in taxonomy, usually follow conventions that 
> facilitate comparisons with similar illustrations. When this is the 
> case, the images do not qualify as copyrightable works."
> "Considering this outline of intellectual property rights, we conclude 
> that principles of copyright do not normally apply to scientific 
> images because most images adhere to the conventions of the 
> discipline. Certainly, copyright is not applicable to images that are 
> intended to facilitate comparison among related taxa."
> I find it disturbing that this article was published in a peer 
> reviewed journal. It sounds to me like these authors are trying to 
> play at being Intellectual Property Judges. As far as I'm concerned, 
> they're entitled to their opinions but they have no right to make 
> blanket statements about what is or is not copyright infringement. I 
> presume they've never tried to make a living creating images. It's 
> disheartening to read this sort of thing. I wonder if GNSI should 
> publish a reply. (Then again, perhaps it is better to simply ignore it).
> I would be curious to know what everyone else thinks about this article.
> ---
> *Emily S. Damstra*
> natural science illustration
> Guelph, Ontario
> (519) 616-3654
> *[log in to unmask] <mailto:[log in to unmask]>*
> <>
> @EmilyDamstra
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