Open Access to Biodiversity Scientific Data: A Comparative Study

ICABR Conference Proceedings, Ravello, Italy (2013)

20 Pages Posted: 27 Jan 2014

See all articles by Melanie Dulong de Rosnay

Melanie Dulong de Rosnay

French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS)

Andrés Guadamuz

University of Sussex

Date Written: June 1, 2013


The field of biodiversity research gathers and crosses collections of environmental data, scientific data, geospatial data and cultural data. All of the available datasets have created a global information pool which can be used to develop further research and downstream bioeconomy innovations. Intellectual Property governance rules vary between proprietary assets and research commons. The largest datasets are collected, curated, mined, and shared at the national and international level by natural history museums and research institutions which are members of the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF), an international organization that aims to make available all known information on biodiversity, provide digitization, facilitate interoperability and retrieval of this data. This paper intends to explore the various legal regimes that apply to biodiversity data. Depending on the data format and the contribution structure, they can be considered as works, public sector information, data, databases, metadata, all submitted to different national and international legal regimes. Besides, contributors apply more or less restrictive terms of use between all rights reserved and open access options. In order to study the impact of governance choices and practices, the authors have conducted interviews with key stakeholders in several GBIF partner institutions in Europe and Latin America in order to better understand the policy challenges faced by biodiversity researchers who intend to share their information, such as biopiracy, commercial exploitation and scientific attribution for data reuse. One section of the paper will be dedicated to the study of the legal environment, while the other will focus on contractual practices.

Keywords: open access, open data, biodiversity, copyright, licence, scientific data, dataset, biopiracy

JEL Classification: K19

Suggested Citation

Dulong de Rosnay, Melanie and Guadamuz, Andres, Open Access to Biodiversity Scientific Data: A Comparative Study (June 1, 2013). ICABR Conference Proceedings, Ravello, Italy (2013). Available at SSRN: or

Melanie Dulong de Rosnay

French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) ( email )

3, rue Michel-Ange
Paris cedex 16, 75794

Andres Guadamuz (Contact Author)

University of Sussex ( email )

Brighton, BN1 9QN
United Kingdom

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