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Opting out of data shares

I realize the 'Terms of Use' page states 'We would like to be able to share the record information freely.'

But, can we as contributors be given the ability to control where our contributions to Bugguide go?

I consciously make a choice to contribute my images and data to Bugguide. I would like to also be able to consciously make a choice if and where that data flows from Bugguide. If I only want my images and data on Bugguide, that should be a choice available to me.

Maybe present users with a checkbox-style control that lists all current/planned data shares and allows the user to turn each one on or off?

At the very least Bugguide should have a page that lists current and planned data shares. Users should be aware of where their data is flowing so they can make a better decision on whether to contribute or not. Transparency is a good thing (in this case).

Please consider it. Thx.

comment deleted by the commenter

Why'd you delete?
Was just writing a response

Re: deleted comment
After posting it (and then editing and reposting it many times), I realized that it was somewhat redundant with some people's earlier comments and also included some factual mistakes. I should have figured that out before posting, or sooner after posting, and I apologize.

Ok, sounds good, thx

Re: deleted comment
Thanks. By the way, I think my comment referred to John VanDyk only as "John V." After I deleted the comment, I realized that you're a John V. too, and just now it occurred to me that maybe when you saw the comment you thought I was referring to you. Apologies for that, as well.

No worries, I knew who you meant ;-)

On publishing
BugGuide is a form of on-line scientific publication. Contributors are free to retain whatever copyright they choose for their images. However, Publishers, libraries, and other forms of scientific collections invariably retain the right to compile basic data about their collections so that information about their holdings is available to the scientific community. I've never heard of a publisher, for example, agreeing to print a book under the condition that it not be included in any off-site databases. It would just take up shelf space somewhere and be of no value unless stumbled upon by visitors.

not really...
BugGuide has no formal standing as an online publication and I doubt there is any legal standing of copyright (if there was, we'd have to sign copyright forms indicating such). BugGuide is essentially social media meets nature photography.
If you post on BG you must be cautious that it could be used elsewhere with no legal standing to the contrary.

Copyright Law
"If you post on BG you must be cautious that it could be used elsewhere with no legal standing to the contrary."

That's not how Copyright Law reads. When you create a "work" you have copyright to it, whether or not you attach any kind of notice to the work. You certainly do have legal standing for images submitted to Bugguide or any other online photo repository.
(Text attached to a submission may be more problematic because most of the text is so brief and generic.)

Of course, for practical purposes for Bugguide submitters, that may not matter much. Trying to enforce copyright could be time consuming and costly.

But in my experience, publishers take their copy rights very seriously. Corporations routinely demand the takedown of copyrighted material posted to web sites and social media platforms.
And most individuals who want to use my Bugguide photos (and writing) are respectful of my copyrights. There may be uses I don't know about.

This is not correct
Images that you upload to BugGuide are protected by US Copyright law. Specifically, you retain the copyright to images that you submit to BugGuide.

Laura and I spent a long time with ISU Legal to hammer out the Terms of Use (bottom right of every page) to make sure that the image copyright stays with the submitter.

This is what I understood
The substantive issue is that GBIF is violating the contributors' copyrights (explicitly stated on their user pages, or implicit via US copyright law) by copying contributors' images (albeit reduced in size), and entire Remarks sections, and declaring such material public domain. As for Remarks, it may be that "most of the text is so brief and generic", as Stephen Hart states. I don't think this really matters, and is not always the case. I often include detailed technical write-ups in Remarks (example). My CC copyright actually permits this and the associated images to be copied to GBIF, but only if the correct license is linked. Otherwise, third hand users will feel free to use my intellectual property without citation.

I suspect this to be an oversight of the 2020 data dump. You may not have realized that the GBIF entries would include more than factual cataloging data consistent with Fair Use. I suggest you ask GBIF to exclude their images and Remarks until such a time when correct copyrights are linked and abided by. I can do so, but it will be more effective coming from you.

See below
I've responded below to you and to R. Berg, but the summary is:

The CC refers to the metadata, not the original image which retains the copyright as selected on BugGuide by the original user.

We are the ones giving GBIF the data, including URLs of the thumbnails. The thumbnails are served from BugGuide, not from GBIF. That said, thumbnails are fair use.

I agree that remarks should be excluded or truncated from the next data dump that we give to GBIF. I would prefer truncated because it gives the user more incentive to investigate the BugGuide submission...on BugGuide.

Hold on a minute, there
"We are the ones giving GBIF the data, including URLs of the thumbnails. The thumbnails are served from BugGuide, not from GBIF. That said, thumbnails are fair use."

Do thumbnails appear on the GBIF site (with or without copyright notices, a whole other issue)? If so, it doesn't matter whose server they come from. Resizing a photo doesn't make it public domain. Neither does using one or another server. The photo remains its creator's intellectual property. This also applies to text: the title for the page bearing that photo and any remarks. Yes, even the first few words of a remark.

Are you considering thumbnails to be derivative works, perhaps? There is case law about what counts as a derivative work.

Here's another point. A Creative Commons license doesn't give a republisher of your work free rein to do just anything with it. The reuser has some obligations.

thanks John
I didn't realize BG had gone through that process! That is good to know!

In my experience, academic publishers retain copyright, the scientists who write the articles (or submit figures and photos) do not. Some academic publishers are loath to allow use of the material they have copyright to, including in education.

Fair use
There is allowance to use copyright-protected material under the "Fair Use" doctrine. Pictures and figures are protected, but basic data about the material may be published by others, provided a proper citation is made. If not so, bibliographies of scientific papers would be rather short, and entomological catalogues impossible. BG's data shares fall under that category.

Hi Edward
The Fair Use explanation you cited says, "Borrowing small bits of material from an original work is more likely to be considered fair use than borrowing large portions. However, even a small taking may weigh against fair use in some situations if it constitutes the 'heart' of the work." I seem to recall, from an example posted in this thread of a GBIF data point gleaned from BugGuide, that the GBIF data point included the full text of the BugGuide user's explanation of the image, along with all of the location, date, etc. information and a thumbnail from BugGuide. This seems to me like far more than just a small, summarizing overview or portion of the work; it's pretty much the full work, word for word and pixel for pixel, just formatted differently and presented on a different website. Also, with regard to your earlier example of the ISBN database...doesn't that just include a few tidbits of "metadata" about the book, such as title, author, number of pages, etc? Making a record of that sort of data in a database seems far different to me than reproducing nearly all of the actual book, BugGuide post, or whatever work we're considering. Furthermore, you say "pictures and figures are protected," but GBIF includes thumbnails of pictures originally posted on BugGuide.

You're absolutely right
Citing a work and copying it for republication are entirely different things. Reference lists in scientific books and articles consist of citations. These violate nothing. But you can't create a work of your own by reproducing, without permission, the content of other people's copyrighted works, however short they are. This applies to text as well as photos.

The whole article?
I don't see anything wrong with the thumbnail on the example: "Rescued at neighbor's house" below since it provides no detail. The full picture on BG is just hyperlinked. It would disappear if the contributor chose to delete it.

Whole write-ups though? I guess I underestimated what a "data point" means. I often write quite extensive material in the Remarks block (my example). However, like 'rescued', there is a Creative Commons license for this contribution that permits it. Are there any examples of whole write-ups on GBIF that have more restrictive licenses?

My impression was that the BugGuide data were being shared to GBIF somewhat indiscriminately in bulk, regardless of how the individual BugGuide posts being shared were originally licensed by their creators. The only criterion I have heard named for what does or doesn't get shared with GBIF is whether the bug in a post has been identified to species or not. I haven't spent enough time on GBIF to answer your question about whole writeups, but I would think the answer would likely be yes if my impression above is accurate.

As for thumbnails on GBIF being OK because they don't show detail, I respect your opinion; my own opinion about it is that it's still the same photographic work even if it's been resized to be smaller, and so for my own work, I would want to have some say over how it gets shared or republished.

Creative Commons
The fact that GBIF specifically acknowledges the Creative Commons License suggests they are set up to abide by license restrictions. As a check, though, I found the GBIF BugGuide Occurrence Dataset page. It links to its Gallery of all such occurrences with images. I checked the first 50. They all provide a small image, a copy of the remarks, a link to the Bugguide page, the name of the Bugguide contributor, and they all record that they have a Creative Commons License. As a nonprofit, that makes them all Creative Commons compliant, at least for those 50. Pending evidence to the contrary, I assume that BG posts with stricter copyright licenses will only be represented by basic "metadata" consistent with a catalog's fair use.

I concede, though, your point on otherwise unauthorized use of images, even if reduced in size. Some small images, like my INaturalist avatar are specifically designed to be small. I would be a bit put-off if I found that someone else was using it.

BugGuide and GBIF
This is addressed not just to Edward but to any BugGuide user reading this, because I think this is important information for everyone to have.

GBIF has 492,239 records gleaned from BugGuide. Every single one of them includes a scaled-down version of the BugGuide image, and every single one of them is declared by GBIF to be in the public domain (CC0 1.0).. This is regardless of whatever the original license was that was claimed by the BugGuide contributor. In at least some cases, the GBIF records include not just a scaled-down copy of the image but also the full text of the BugGuide contributor's explanation of the image. The full location, date, contributor name, and other basic data from the BugGuide post are also all included.

To give an example, I went to GBIF's Gallery view of the BG dataset. Each GBIF record is represented by a scaled-down BugGuide image. I opened the first 12 images in GBIF, then looked up the original license terms for each of the BugGuide contributors who had originally created these images.

First 12
[BugGuide contributor], [Contributor's original license]; GBIF: [license declared by GBIF]

1. Mike Quinn, CC BY-ND-NC 1.0; GBIF: Public domain, CC0 1.0
2. John Lincoln, all rights reserved; GBIF: Public domain, CC0 1.0
3. John Lincoln, all rights reserved; GBIF: Public domain, CC0 1.0
4. Gonodactylus, all rights reserved; GBIF: Public domain, CC0 1.0
5. C. Fred Zeillemaker, all rights reserved; GBIF: Public domain, CC0 1.0
6. Nancy Kent, all rights reserved; GBIF: Public domain, CC0 1.0
7. Joe Girgente, all rights reserved; GBIF: Public domain, CC0 1.0
8. Ray Lemke, all rights reserved; GBIF: Public domain, CC0 1.0
9. Joe Girgente, all rights reserved; GBIF: Public domain, CC0 1.0
10. ALittleSlow, all rights reserved; GBIF: Public domain, CC0 1.0
11. Ken Childs, all rights reserved; GBIF: Public domain, CC0 1.0
12. Jean Evoy, all rights reserved; GBIF: Public domain, CC0 1.0

Public domain means copyright is fully relinquished and anyone "may copy, modify, distribute and use the work, including for commercial purposes, without restriction."

Also, GBIF provides a citation to use when citing BugGuide data from GBIF in a publication. The citation is as follows:

VanDyk J, Sellers E, Bartlett T (2020). BugGuide - Identification, Images, & Information For Insects, Spiders & Their Kin For the United States & Canada. Version 1.5. United States Geological Survey. Occurrence dataset accessed via on 2022-09-09.

This is provided not only in the dataset page representing the entire BugGuide dataset, but also at the bottom of every individual GBIF record gleaned from BugGuide. That means that, even if a person using a particular GBIF BugGuide record decides to try to attribute it -- which they don't have to, since the record is supposedly in the public domain -- the recommended method of attribution does not include the name of the BugGuide contributor who originally created the image or text.

I'm not going to comment on what I think of all this right now; just wanted to get the information out there.

"Each GBIF record is represented by a scaled-down BugGuide image."

Just for fun, I tried out Topaz Gigapixel AI on one of the thumbnails from GBIF.

Now, I'm no expert in Gigapixel AI. I just used the basic suggested settings. The result was clearly like a blown up thumbnail image. Not at all like an original, even at 560 px. I suspect that an expert could do better, but not miraculously better.

At least I think we don't have to worry that someone could copy a thumbnail, run some software on it—say "Enhance!"—and pass it off as an original photo.

And yes
you're right, it's not something that can be blown up as passed off as the same quality as the original...a relief :)

most of the fundamental things that "make an image" that's posted to BugGuide are still present in the GBIF thumbnail -- you can still see the basic composition of the image, the shapes, colors, and basic patterns of the organism, the animal's posture at the moment the photo was taken, the background and surroundings...pretty much everything that makes it an original creation and thus intellectual property. It may not have quite the same level of detail, but it's still a uniquely identifiable image.

I can comment on what I think of it!
Thank you for posting. "GBIF has 492,239 records gleaned from BugGuide. Every single one of them includes a scaled-down version of the BugGuide image, and every single one of them is declared by GBIF to be in the public domain (CC0 1.0).. This is regardless of whatever the original license was that was claimed by the BugGuide contributor. In at least some cases, the GBIF records include not just a scaled-down copy of the image but also the full text of the BugGuide contributor's explanation of the image." So it's pretty clear: the originators' copyrights to text and photos are being violated en masse. That the copying is for a good cause, that many contributors would have given permission if asked, that most people outside the world of publishing don't know their way around copyright or don't care––all irrelevant.

Thumbnail concerns
I would like to address the concerns expressed by you and John van der Linden.

It is important to understand that we (BugGuide) are sending data to GBIF. They are not harvesting, gleaning, crawling, or taking our data. We are sending a prepared dataset to them. Why? So that BugGuide records will be visible to the many researchers who are using GBIF. The original data is kept on BugGuide. GBIF federates data from a large number of sources so that it can all be searched together. This is a benefit to BugGuide.

Your original image, the one that you upload to BugGuide, can only be seen by you and by those on BugGuide who have the "expert" and "editor" roles. BugGuide creates a 560-pixel-wide resized image that the general public sees. And BugGuide creates a thumbnail image that it links to your BugGuide submission for searching, reference with the thumb code, etc.

Thumbnail images, especially those that link back to the original, are not copyright violations but have been valid under fair use since Kelly v. Arriba Soft Corp. in 2003. Google Image Search uses thumbnails of BugGuide images all the time!

If someone wanted to steal your image, they would steal the 560-pixel version that BugGuide serves (or the original, if they could get at it), not the thumbnail.

I would welcome the use of BugGuide thumbnails (linked back to BugGuide) on sites like Moth Photographer's Group - A. polyphemus to link back to the representative images on A. polyphemus on BugGuide (in this case an editor has carefully selected representative thumbnails).

For that matter, there are BugGuide thumbnails on the Department of Plant Pathology, Entomology, and Microbiology that show the latest placement and draw people in to BugGuide.

Edward Ruden does have a good point about extensive remarks. How useful is that on GBIF? I would say not very. I'd rather the user come to BugGuide and read the remarks in context. I was unable to locate his example on GBIF to see how it looks there. We could also truncate the Remarks section in the dataset that we send over.

Thumbnails and "extensive remarks"
I can see now that the GBIF thumbnails are served from BG. My confusion was due to its URL having "gbif" near the front. This, though, just executes a tool that zooms in on an image pulled from a BG cache.

Re my example, not all BG observations are represented on GBIF, even if they predate 2020 and are ID'ed to species. I don't know what the criteria are. Here are examples that are on GBIF with technical write-ups that go beyond Fair Use metadata:

Cymatodera sp. male, dorsal - Cymatodera dietrichi
Pachybrachis caelatus, dorsal - Pachybrachis caelatus
Zephyr Eyed Silkmoth larva - Automeris zephyria

These need the correct copyright linked. For other contributors with stricter copyrights than mine, remarks should be deleted entirely since they may go beyond metadata too, and there does not appear to be a wet intelligence screening it for such. I'm not concerned about folks intentionally stealing intellectual property. As you say, they can go straight to BG for that. I even leave the door unlocked by providing links to the higher resolution image as submitted. My concern is that the vast majority of GBIF visitors will infer, based on the public domain declaration, that it is OK to take the thumbnail and remarks and use them unattributed. You say the thumbnail is Fair Use like on Google searches. However, Google does not display a declaration that the vast majority of users will interpret to mean that images on its search page are public domain. This can be fixed by a clarification of the public domain statement on the GBIF observation page itself. If it were instead "somewhere on the GBIF site for the BugGuide dataset", as you suggest, it might as well be posted on the bulletin board at city hall on Alpha Centauri for most users.

Please consider the above when GBIF contacts BG to fix this issue (Steve Scholnick, 12 Sep post).


Thank you for directly addressing our concerns. I appreciate that. A few things in response.

1. Regarding who amassed the data for GBIF: Ever since you used the word "dump" in your earlier post to this forum topic, it was clear to me that the data-gathering was not being done by GBIF. My choice of words ("gleaned from BG") was unfortunate in that it might've implied otherwise. But I also think that by saying that "we (BugGuide)" are sending them the data, you're missing the fact that (judging from these comments) many BugGuide users weren't aware of these transfers until now. It doesn't feel to me like something that the community as whole decided to do together. And no, I'm not saying everything about BugGuide should be decided by committee, or consensus, or a vote. This is a particular case where I think having contributors fully aware and on board is important. Given how much original material from so many contributors is being shared here, I question whether it's best to do the sharing without broad agreement that this is, in fact, a benefit to BugGuide (let alone to individual contributors).

2. To say that thumbnails "are not copyright violations but have been valid under fair use since Kelly v. Arriba Soft Corp. in 2003" seems to me misleading in this case, though I don't mean to imply you're trying to mislead. This webpage on the subject written by a lawyer says the question of fair use for thumbnails "requires a complex analysis of the fair use factors" but that basically, "the repurposing of thumbnail images is permissible fair use so long as the use of those images has been transformed from their original purpose. The greater the transformation, the more likely a court will find fair use." [emphasis added] It seems to me like taking thumbnails from one website focused on the dissemination of biodiversity knowledge and reproducing the same thumbnails on another website focused on the dissemination of biodiversity knowledge isn't a transformation at all. GBIF and BG play similar roles and have overlapping goals. If there's a transformation happening here, it's quite obscure to me.

3. About remarks: From my perspective, your asking whether the remarks are useful on GBIF, or whether they should be truncated, misses the underlying question that is more important to me: whether the people who wrote those remarks wanted them on GBIF or authorized their use in the first place. The BugGuide TOS basically says photos get to be copyrighted but all other submitted content is "not considered copyrightable." That might be true for date of observation, male vs. female specimen, etc., but the remarks are original compositions by the authors. In some cases they are quite long and include stories, opinions, etc. There's no way that those aren't "copyrightable." They're way more than just metadata. Contributors don't relinquish their copyright to such remarks in their submissions just because the TOS claims that copyright law doesn't apply. If I'm wrong about that being the intent of the TOS, then I think the TOS page needs to be clarified to include remarks in the same category as photos.

These are all excellent points . . .
and I thank you for articulating them so well.

I want to make some underlying conditions explicit because it doesn't seem that all discussants agree on what the basic assumptions really are. (1) Ownership of the rights to images and text remains with the individual who posts them on BugGuide. It doesn't transfer to BG just because the images and text were posted. Essentially, by posting, the creator grants to BG a limited license. (2) Permission to republish material (in this case, meaning to put a copy of it online) can be granted only by the entity that owns the rights to the material. Accordingly, BG can't decide that another site is free to repost what an individual has uploaded to BG, unless that individual has chosen Creative Commons licensing (and even then, there are limitations). (3) The prospect of drawing traffic to BG doesn't figure in these legal concerns.

BG has been acting as if it owned intellectual property that in fact belongs to a large number of individuals.

Thanks for these points
I'm upset about what's been happening between BG and GBIF. I am also thinking about John VanDyk right now and how if I were in his shoes I'd probably be feeling pretty threatened by all the talk of legal concerns, copyright infringement, etc. And I am not wanting to be menacing or threaten anyone. I just want there to be some public clarity about the situation and, yes, to express my thoughts and feelings about it, and figure out together what if anything there is to do next. John, if you're reading this, I hope we can continue the discussion and come to some agreement on next steps collectively.

I'm not so much threatened as so very, very tired. Up at 5 today to bring kid to early school. The storage array that contains BugGuide's live data had a drive fail today that took the whole day to rebuild and rectify. I'm between kid marching band performances at the moment.

I had been in touch with GBIF already, before Steven sent emails. I think we can all agree that their interface is very confusing. It is unclear which part of what they display is under which license -- and when you include a copyright notice with the image then it looks like the whole record is copyrighted. And we are hampered by not having direct control; everything is interpreted from a data file.

I propose that we drop the remarks entirely from the dataset. If we could figure out a way to both send copyright info and link the thumbnail back I think everyone would be happy.

I retain copyright on
my BugGuide images although I've always agreed to their non-commercial use when asked. However, those awful thumbnails of my images are present on GBIF at this page.
If they had asked to use them, I'd have certainly said yes but no one ever asked and, until this thread appeared, I didn't even know that BugGuide shared data with GBIF.

Creative Commons is attributed ...
... on the pages with your data on GBIF. However, I can see from your user page that this is not true and, according to the Wayback Machine, never was. They have reduced-size images and your remarks on each. When I checked the first 50, I did not follow up to verify the CC claim was true. This is a problem.

I hadn't seen the reference to the CC license. I've written to GBIF and asked them to remove those records. If someone had bothered to ask me first, I would have freely given permission to use all of my records but not now that my copyright to those images is blown. Not that my copyright is a big deal because I've never turned down a request to use my images for non-commercial purposes but I like to know what my stuff is being used for.

In any event, BugGuide really needs to be more explicit about what its policy is on record sharing.

Fair Use data is OK
I suggest modifying your request. GBIF is within its rights to use the factual cataloging data from your contributions under the Fair Use doctrine: species ID, locality, date, observer/collector name, BG URL, etc. Such data is valuable to the scientific community and does not compromise your compositional and photographic intellectual property. It is only your image and remarks that require your permission.

Edward is correct. In fact the terms of use for BugGuide specifically make a distinction between the two groups of data.

>In any event, BugGuide really needs to be more explicit about what its policy is on record sharing.

We spent a lot of time with ISU Legal, insisting on plain English instead of legalese. The CONTRIBUTED CONTENT section of the Terms of Use specifically says that image copyright is retained but metadata can be shared. It also says plainly that "We would like to be able to share the record information freely." See my August 19 post that the whole purpose of BugGuide is to share.

As your response from GBIF emphasized, the Creative Commons license note on GBIF is specific to the metadata record, not the image (which, again, is served from BugGuide, not from GBIF). In a perfect world the thumbnail would link back to the BugGuide page for that submission (just like it does on BugGuide itself), but GBIF has it linking to a larger version of the image itself. You can still get to the record by following the link further down in the GBIF record.

I went back in my email to my 2016 exchange with Liz Sellers while we were preparing the dataset. I was concerned that copyright for BugGuide images be maintained. Liz wrote:

>I'm working on adding your edits into the online metadata record and just wanted to respond to your question about the "Creative Commons CCZero" license: yes, that license only applies to the observations (or species occurrence records). It does not apply to the images. And if necessary, we can insert some additional clarifying text into the metadata record (and/or general_comments field of each occurrence record) to indicate that distinction.

And then in a followup we added this clarification: "License applies ONLY to species occurrence records. License does not apply to original images associated with species occurrence records." That language should be somewhere on the GBIF site for the BugGuide dataset.


This is going to sound silly
but, despite being active on this site for 8+ years, I had to hunt for the Terms of Use after reading your post (why would I go to the very bottom of the page?). Maybe there should be another link to the terms posted somewhere more obvious like under the Help tab.

I think much of this discussion could be have been avoided if some easy-to-find BugGuide "collaborations" page simply stated what's being shared with which other sites. "We would like to be able to share the record information freely" really doesn't say much because, by allowing anyone to visit BugGuide and view its contents, you are, in a sense, sharing the information freely. There's no indication from that sentence that the information will be shared with sites outside of BugGuide and it's the surprise of finding out about this in such a roundabout way that really caught my attention. It also might have helped if GBIF was clearer about what the CC0 1.0 Universal license applied to, and if they also noted that the actual BugGuide images were subject to copyright.

I'll also say that I'm not as offended by the enlarged thumbnails as Jeff despite the amount of effort I put into creating my images. The enlarged GBIF thumbnails are so absurdly bad that I can't imagine why anyone thought they were a good idea in the first place. Maybe they should be credited to Otto Focus...

From what I can tell, they are pulling the thumbnail image stored on bugguide based on an address we ship them in the data share. Then they apply some sort of magic to the thumbnail producing an altered version of the thumbnail which they then display.

Is this okay legally?

It's not okay with me. It does not do justice to either myself or the species. The zoomed images look horrible.

reply from GBIF
included the following: : "As far as I can see, no media license information available in the archive we receive from BugGuide (CC0 is the license associated with the observation, not the image). We will contact BugGuide and help them fix that issue."
I suggested that my images & comments could stay on GBIF as long as the site indicated that they were used with the permission of the copyright holder. If BugGuide could attach that info to what they upload to GBIF, I'd allow all of my posts to be used there. It's the "Wait a minute..." aspect of this that bothered me.

thanks for the explanation
if they ever answer my email, they can bring that up. However, I wouldn't put any money on the odds of actually getting a reply

So, has BugGuide opted out of sharing data with iNaturalist? See this comment on iNaturalist -- BugGuide links have disappeared

I don't know what happened to the links
But BG and iNaturalist records go to GBIF (iNat automatically, BG in planned periodic transfers) rather than going to each other's websites.

merging problem perhaps
I wonder if this has anything to do with the merging of the Department of Entomology at Iowa State University with the Department of Plant Pathology and Microbiology which was scheduled for Sept. 1? The links may have changed.

The merger has happened. Nothing about the merger has affected BugGuide or its links except the nameplate on the bottom, which now links to the new merged department website.

From reading that iNatForum post and looking at the examples, it seems to be referring to the More Info page where sometimes BugGuide is listed. Nothing on the BugGuide end has changed. If anything we strive to keep our links stable over time, and when changes are needed we strive to redirect old URLs to new URLs so links do not break.

In short: no changes have taken place on BugGuide.

One question about GBIF
Questions concerning contributors cross-posting their photo records to BugGuide and iNaturalist periodically come up on the website forums. Specifically, that it would be ideal if possible for only one copy of records cross-posted to BG and iNat to be sent to GBIF. Concern of generating duplicate GBIF records has led some contributors to only rarely or never cross-post to BG and iNat, although cross-posting remains somewhat common overall.

If possible at some future time, one ideal possibility would be if GBIF could in some automatic way detect such "duplicate" records and only keep one of each. That way it would be easier for contributors, because in some circumstances it does make sense to cross-post, despite that I don't usually. Or, is there any chance GBIF already does something like this? (because I know it detects some forms of mismatched records)

EOL (Encyclopedia of Life) also cooperates with GBIF

At the moment, I see no way to contribute to EO (but maybe I missed it). I think it used to be that you had to create a Flickr account.

I have a few thoughts on this
I have a few thoughts on this. They are mostly philosophical.

First, there is no conspiracy. There are no secret deals in back rooms with BugGuide staff, GBIF staff, and iNaturalist staff tossing back highballs and yucking it up. There are no "managers of BugGuide". There's just me working nights and weekends on BugGuide. But not last night, since it was open house at the high school my child is going to, and not this weekend, since we are moving one of my other children into college. I want to start with this because I want to move the "oh no, BugGuide is doing shady things and I didn't know" narrative to "BugGuide is doing the best it can with no staff."

The answer to "can I put my things on the web and then choose not to share them" is no and I will try to explain why. I used to have to explain this to website clients a lot. You can go to any picture on the web and right-click it and download it. You can go to any web page and copy information from it. To get the BugGuide dataset you could go page by page and copy the data into an Excel spreadsheet. You can even write a program to go a bunch of web pages and extract the information and build a dataset that contains your data as well as everyone else's. This is not a fantasy. here is one such program that specifically does it for BugGuide! There are more.

My point here is that the data is public and is going to be shared whether I want to or not. Whether it is shared as a dataset or scraped by a crawler, it is shared.

However, I want to share! What is BugGuide? From our home page: "We are an online community of naturalists who enjoy learning about and sharing our observations of insects, spiders, and other related creatures."

Going further, our stated mission is "Using the best resources we have access to, we are creating a knowledgebase to help each other and the online community."

BugGuide does not exist in a vacuum. With today's ecological crisis and the general decline in knowledge about our natural world I think we should do everything we can to collaborate with and help people get excited about insects. That's why when someone sends me an email that says "I am creating a field guide for the butterflies of Texas" or "I am creating a checklist for the dragonflies of Indiana" I take my time to go into the BugGuide backend and dump out a set of records that will help them. I could just point them to the Advanced Search and say do it yourself, work around the ancient record limits by going species by species, month by month, and put it together yourself. That seems like a giant waste of time.

In fact, in BugGuide 2.0 the Advanced Search has a CSV export button. Anyone can dump out data for their field guide, local checklist project, to check against their own insect life list, or for any other purpose. This is a good and helpful thing, and it saves me late nights doing custom SQL queries for people who are trying to do good things but don't have the technical chops to write a crawler or even do advanced Excel pivottables.

MPG is run by Steve Nanz, a longtime BugGuide editor (he is user 429 on BugGuide). Steve took over from Bob Patterson. It is not some rogue group. If we can collaborate to make maps more accurate for North American moths, I think that is a good thing.

Likewise sharing with GBIF is a good thing. Only the records that have been identified to species are shared, so we intentionally only share good data. BugGuide's data does not flow automatically to GBIF; it goes periodically with assistance from the US Geological Survey and the latest dump was 2020.

To summarize:

1. On the web, you cannot prevent data sharing; you can only make it easier or harder.

2. I am on record as sharing and collaboration being a good thing. It is what BugGuide is all about.

3. There are entire groups (like iDigBio for example) that work on standards for data sharing of natural history specimens. I wish BugGuide could be more standards-compliant and participate more in efforts to understand the occurrence and distribution of arthropods. Maybe when I retire.

Copyrights transfer (edited)?
GBIF goes too far. Did the 2020 BG data dump include the correct copyright data? Was permission given to alter it? If so, who gave this permission? The answer to these will determine how best to proceed. This is a legal matter and one which may have a significant impact on contributors' willingness to post to BG, or even retain their current contributions.

The latest sub-thread starting with On publishing clarifies things considerably. GBIF has everything marked CC0 1.0 Universal (public domain). The BG default (the one I use) is CC BY-ND-NC 1.0 (Attribution-NoDerivs-NonCommercial 1.0 Generic). This change is only permissible for data posted under the Fair Use doctrine, such as specimen data that would appear in any taxonomic catalogue. However, GBIF posts the entire contents of the contributions, except for using a smaller image and having Markups disabled in the Remarks. A link to the default copyright is required for this if used. Also, many contributors have more restrictive licenses requiring that permission be obtained to use their images and remarks. Such permission is apparently not provided in those cases.

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