I just recently learned that all rights reserved observations are not getting out to external platforms such as GBIF, where, presumably, a lot of the science that is done with iNat data will be going. I am also noticing more and more that a lot of users seem to have their observation copyrights set to all right reserved. It also seems to happen a lot with new users or users with few observations. I can’t remember where I read that, but apparently about 65% of observations right now have a license that allows them to be exported to GBIF. I find this really unfortunate as it leaves out a significant portion of the data that could be used for science or conservation.
My feeling is that this is mostly a byproduct of people choosing to retain all rights over their photos instead of people consciously choosing not to share their observations. If you’d ask any iNatter whether they would like to share their observations (species, date, location, but not photos or recordings) with scientists or biologists so that they can use the data for conservation or for better understanding the distribution of species in space and time, I would expect that the vast majority of people would say yes, of course!
My questioning is whether the current way of choosing licenses should be improved so that observations don’t inherit from the same licensing chosen for the photos or the recordings. There is actually a feature request here Provide separate checkboxes for media and observation data licensing upon sign up for separating the observations from photos when subscribing to the site, but it apparently did not attract much attention (ah, this is where I got the % mentioned earlier!). To me, this request makes a lot of sense. I actually don’t remember what is asked when one subscribes to the site (or through the app). Could it also be a possibility to have a default for observations (CC0, Public Domain) different from the default for photos or observations? I bring up the subject here and the feature request, because I think a bit more discussion might be needed around this.
Another minor point is that right now, we can filter for licenses when IDing, but it seems that we can do it only for photo licenses. Am I right? Or perhaps, we could filter for observation licenses through urls? Anyway, my point here is that I may not want to spend my time IDing observations that people choose to retain their rights over. But of course, I may keep doing it since it is probably more a question of people not realizing that they chose to make their observation not usable (related Cannot filter for observations with © (All Rights Reserved) photos).