JNCC’s position on GBIF

Written by Paul Gilbertson

JNCC would like to update the NBN on its current position with regards to GBIF and the development of Record Commenting functionality on the NBN Gateway.


As you may or may not be aware GBIF consulted on changing their terms and conditions around submitted datasets and at various points this included moving to a CC0 stance (Creative Commons 0 Licence). At the same time a consultation was undertaken on NBN access controls and reporting requirements.

This threw up a number of issues between the NBN Gateway Terms and Conditions and GBIFs. Additionally the removal of the ‘view only’ control (as part of Gateway 5) would potentially cause a number of additional datasets (that previously would not have been pushed to GBIF) to be uploaded, so a decision was taken to suspend updating datasets until the issues were resolved.

It is JNCC's understanding that the forced move to CC0 has now gone, but there are three remaining issues:

  • Reporting: We guaranteed to data providers that any viewing or downloading of records would be tracked on the NBN Gateway and reported to administrators. We cannot track data on the GBIF portal, so data passed to there could be downloaded and viewed freely and we would not track this.
  • Legal Issues: There are a number of legal issues around the NBN Gateway Terms and Conditions and their incompatibility with the GBIF portals. You grant us the right to distribute data under the NBN’s T&Cs and we cannot arbitrarily re-licence that data. This is important to a number of data providers.
  • Data Withdrawal: GBIF was looking into a mechanism around DoIs that would mean that data providers could not remove data from the GBIF portal. Given that we provide a mechanism for you to change access controls to withdraw or blur data, we needed GBIF to be able to reflect your wishes.

In order to solve the above, we have decided that the best way to tackle the situation would be to develop an opt-in mechanism for exporting to GBIF. Dataset administrators could opt datasets in and acknowledge that they were accepting GBIF’s T&Cs. This is still the plan. However, the NBN Gateway budget took a significant hit this year as part of general Government cut backs, and unfortunately development was halted. In parallel, the NBN Trust is currently working with GBIF to try and align the two mechanisms better, but in the interim, the publication to GBIF has been frozen.

Record Commenting

The feedback from the NBN Strategy workshops has suggested that this functionality would be valuable to reinstate and also highlighted the importance of unique IDs for records in the UK NBN system. Work is continuing around developing the functionality for record verification and record commenting, and this will be tested by the NBN Gateway User Group first. The pace of this work has also been affected by the cuts, however, we plan to have a first release of some functionality for the User Group this financial year.

The NBN Gateway has always operated under a small budget and on a ‘best effort basis’. Government cutbacks have caused the pressure on that budget to increase, and so we cannot, even with the best of intentions, proceed any further at the moment.

JNCC hopes this answers your questions, and wishes there was better news to be bringing you.  We will keep you updated as further progress is made.  
If you wish to comment on this update please visit the NBN Forum where you can contribute to this thread.

Web design by Red Paint