the GiGLer

The newsletter of Greenspace Information of Greater London CIC

Know your copyrights

Do you know your copyright from your elbow? Who owns the records in GiGL’s database? Oliver Grafton, of the National Biodiversity Network explains the ins and outs of data ownership, with GiGL examples from Mandy Rudd.

As a GiGLer reader, you are probably already one of the estimated 60,000 people who collect wildlife records in the UK. The records that you provide GiGL are the foundation of our work and contribute to a greater understanding of the wildlife that lives in the capital.

But, when you hand your records to GiGL, what exactly are you passing on? Who owns the wildlife records that you create and we use?

In the eyes of the law, a documented wildlife record – paper or electronic – is considered a literary product. In the same way that an author is automatically awarded a legal right to protect their intellectual property – the investment they make in creating their work – so too is the creator of a wildlife record. Copyright allows you to exercise control over how your intellectual property is used under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988. If you create a record in your own time, you hold any associated copyright. If you create a record as part of your employment, copyright is awarded to your employer, unless you are a freelance or independent contractor. In this case, you retain copyright over any works you produce for a client unless your contract specifies otherwise. But why should you permit GiGL to use your records?

GiGL’s accessing data policy

GiGL’s fundamental principle is to make available all records, no matter how sensitive, with the appropriate interpretation, via GiGL and via the National Biodiversity Network’s Gateway. However, access to records is restricted where general availability could pose a real threat to species or habitats, or would compromise the supply of data.

For further information on the policy please see here.

GiGL is widely regarded as the ‘one-stop shop’ for data on London’s wildlife and open spaces. It provides services to individuals and organisations at a local, national and international level, including recording schemes and the wider public. The partnership’s data inform planning decisions and broader agendas including health and well-being; help target conservation work; contribute to better understanding of species distribution and change; and generate greater interest in and understanding of wildlife and the environment.

The GiGL database contains a wide range of wildlife information collated from hundreds and thousands of records from public and professional surveys. New records are checked, formatted and may have contextual information added as they are entered into the GiGL database – work that relies on the skills of GiGL’s staff and the knowledge of taxonomic experts with whom GiGL works.

GiGL has its own associated intellectual property rights that protect the work of creating and managing our database.These are in addition to, and do not remove or replace, the intellectual property rights of each recorder. GiGL’s intellectual property rights allow us to control how our database and information within it is used. Just as GiGL needs permission to use your records, anyone wishing to use information drawn from GiGL’s database needs GiGL’s permission.

Intellectual property rights were originally established to enable individuals and organisations to profit from their own intellectual creativity – to encourage greater creativity within a free market economy.The cutting edge of the medical research industry, for example, thrives on intellectual property rights. However, although these rights stimulate medical creativity, they also mean that resulting advances are not readily available to the majority of society.

Experience within the biodiversity sector to date has been the polar opposite. Few if any recorders use their records for financial gain. It is increasingly accepted that greater understanding of the natural environment and our impact upon it can be gained by maximising the availability and use of records. GiGL’s own policy is not to profit from providing access to records. GiGL is actively working with the wider NBN partnership to look for new funding models that will benefit everyone involved in biological recording – including you and 59,999 other recorders.

GiGL contract annex

We want to be clear that we have your permission to add your records to the GiGL database.The data exchange principles promoted by the National Biodiversity Network emphasise this: “A clear transfer of authority should be made when a biodiversity data resource is put together, to allow biodiversity managers to act on behalf of the biodiversity data owners.”

For this reason, it is important for organisations that commission survey work to specify who will own copyright of the survey data, that they require access to data at full resolution, and, if they wish to supply those data to GiGL, the format they should be in.

GiGL can provide a contract annex that outlines:

  • The processes of data entry in Recorder 6 or Recorder ready spreadsheets
  • The minimum quality assurance and quality control checks
  • The information and metadata requirements of GiGL systems.

The GiGL Film Club – a simple analogy

Membership of a film club allows you access to DVDs of your choice, whether your interest is in black and white classics or the latest releases, art-house or blockbuster, without the financial outlay of buying the entire library. You may watch the films you borrow, but are not permitted to copy or re-distribute them.

Your annual subscription to the club contributes a small fraction of the running costs of the film club but, by sharing these costs between all members, the resource becomes accessible and sustainable for all.The time and financial costs of assembling that library, of paying for the requisite expertise to manage your own film library of similar scale and quality to the film club would be prohibitive.

If your membership expires, your right to borrow DVDs also expires and you must return those films still in your possession.

GiGL Data Use Licences

GiGL requires each partner to complete and return a copy of our data use licence for each year that they have a service level agreement with us.We also provide bespoke products to our partners’ contractors on request, and these contractors are also asked to sign a copy of a slightly different version of the licence prior to us supplying data.The licence sets out four conditions of data supply.

  • Data are supplied for in-house use only
  • On termination of a service level agreement, all data not owned by the organisation must be removed from all systems
  • Responsibility for compliance with the agreement by all of a partner organisation’s employees falls to the signatory
  • GiGL can terminate a service level agreement if a partner is in breach of these terms.

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