A new article entitled, Digitizing Specimens-Legal Issues Abound, will appear in the September issue of the journal BioScience. The article is currently available as an Advance Access publication. The article examines legal issues arising from the digitization of museum specimens and making them publicly available, including ownership of images and data and the ability to copyright them.
The article raises several concerns. Do the people in possession of the specimen own it, and do they have permission to distribute the specimen for scanning? Who claims the rights to the digital data? Does a contract between the owning institution and the source of the specimen affect its digital reproduction and distribution?