Mar 042013
 

Apiaceae FamilySince August 2012 Boris (Boriss) Lariushin has been prolifically publishing a series of illustrated botanical monographs on major plant families. The problem is that these books are plagiarised from the Internet and published under Lariushin’s name without acknowledgement or accreditation of the multiple sources. Although the information and images he copies are freely available, most are protected by a traditional copyright statement or issued with a Creative Commons licence that permits reuse with accreditation. Estonia-based Lariushin ignores this, publishing these books as his own work, and claiming his own copyright (all rights reserved) on these compilations. This flagrant abuse of other people’s content is of wide concern to the scientific community as it fundementally undermines the drive towards Open Access and free availablity of scientific information. These books appear to be largely automatically generated, and further volumes are sure to appear – the three volumes on the carrot family Apiaceae only cover about 25% of the genera, and so one presumes that Lariushin is expecting to publish a further nine more volumes just on this family.

Lariushin’s first monograph was published in August 2012, and covered the tomato and potato family (Solanaceae) in 2 volumes. This was followed by three volumes on the carrot family (Apiaceae) a few months later (discussed below), and recently two more books have appeared: one on the water-lily family (Nympheaceae) and another on cycads (Cycadaceae), both in January 2013. The publisher is not indicated in any these books, but Amazon.co.uk gives this as CreateSpace, part of the Amazon group of companies (see below). The printer of each volume is Amazon.co.uk.

As specialist on the carrot family (Apiaceae/Umbelliferae), I was naturally interested in these new books which claim to cover “all Apiaceae of the world in several color photos for each species described, detailed descriptions, scientific information” (Amazon listing). At first glance these look impressive publications, liberally illustrated with colour photographs, but alarm bells started to ring when I saw the running head ‘Solanaceae Family’ throughout all three books – presumably a formatting error carried over from his earlier books. On closer inspection I was disappointed to find that all the information and images given for every species that I checked appears to have been copied from internet websites – including my own work published in the Flora of China. The books do not contain acknowledgment nor accreditation to the multiple sources used. Indeed, the author’s own claim of copyright  leads one to assume that this is primary information, and all his own work.

A very large proportion of the contents of these books (perhaps almost all?) appears to comprise data copied from Internet sources (see examples below) where it is freely available for people to read, and in a much more flexible, updatable format than in these printed books. Lariushin’s actions in publishing and selling these books clearly breaks the copyright and/or licensing arrangements for many sources from which he has plagiarised text and images, and it is surprising that the publisher did not undertake any content checks before agreeing to print these works. School examination boards and universities routinely use automated methods to check student scripts for plagiarism of internet sources, and perhaps Amazon should adopt these technologies (e.g.CrossRef’s Cross Check) to check manuscripts that are sent to them.

Lariushin’s plagiarism of these sources without accreditation is unacceptable, and disregards the work and intellectual input of the people who actually did the original research. Readers might be interested in looking at Boris Lariushin’s own website, where his photos of nature are provided under a Creative Commons Share Alike license (you may copy and reuse, but must attribute the sources and be for non commercial use). He clearly wishes to get accreditation for his own work.

I cannot recommend that anyone buys these books. Indeed, it is a shame that, in common with other botanical institutes, our library has already bought these products, assuming that they are bona fide botanical publications. These books add nothing to the growth of scientific knowledge. If anything they stifle the future free availability of authoritative information as people will think twice about contributing information to websites and other Open Access publications.

Details on the ‘Apiaceae Family’ volumes

  • Lariushin, B. (2012). Apiaceae Family: volume 1. [publisher not indicated, October 2012]. ISBN 10: 1-4801-6879-3 (soft back, £44.49); 13: 978-1480-1-6879-4 (hard back, £83.23). pp 429.
  • Lariushin, B. (2012). Apiaceae Family: volume 2. [publisher not indicated, October 2012]. ISBN 10: 1-4802-1827-8 (soft back, £44.46); 13: 978-1480-2-1827-7 (hard back, £83.23). pp 422.
  • Lariushin, B. (2012). Apiaceae Family: volume 3. [publisher not indicated, November 2012]. ISBN 10: 1-4810-2137-0 (soft back, £44.49); 13: 978-1-4810-2137-1 (hard back, £83.01). pp 413.

The publisher is ‘CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform’, CreateSpace, a DBA (Doing Business As company) of On-Demand Publishing LLC, part of the Amazon group of companies. The printer is given in each volume as Amazon.co.uk, Ltd., Marston Gate, Great Britain. Paperback and Kindle versions of these books are listed on the Amazon.co.uk website under the author ‘Boriss Lariushin‘ (he also has other listings under the name ‘Boris Lariushin‘), and hardback versions are available on the self-publishing website Lulu.

Each of the three volumes starts with the same three-page introduction to the family and an 11-page list of genera in the Apiaceae. The introductory text is copied verbatim from the Wikipedia entry for the family, with the headings removed. The list of genera is also copied verbatim from Wikipedia (see here), including the errors of including the species name Hacquetia epipactis rather than just the generic name, and ‘Scandia (plant)’. Genera and species are ordered alphabetically: volume 1 includes Aciphylla to Astericum, volume 2 includes Astomaea to Chaerophyllum, and volume 3 includes Chaetosciadium to Eriosynaphe. Presumably many future volumes are planned to cover the numerous genera, from Eryngium to Zosima, which comprise almost 8 of the remaining 11-page list of genera at the start of the books.

Each genus usually starts with a short description and list of included species – again taken from Wikipedia (e.g. compare Cymopterus, vol. 3 p.157 with the Wikipedia entry). Sometimes additional information is given, for example the information for Cympoterus continues with text copied verbatim from the Southwest Colorado Wildflowers website (there is no indication that Al Schneider, the author of the Colorado website, has given permission for his work to be used in this way, as clearly stated in Schneider’s copyright statement). Information on the genus is usually followed by one or more species accounts with coloured photographs and some text. The information provided on each species is very heterogeneous, possibly reflecting what could be found on internet sources. No keys, or other identification tools (apart from the images) are provided. Each volume concludes with a ‘Table of Contents’ listing the included genera and species.

Further examples of the use of online sources

Volume 1: Aciphylla scott-thomsonii (p 65-67). All the images included in the account are currently top hits when searching Google Images for this species name. E.g. PhytoImages, which has a clear terms of use and a copyright statement. Alepidea amatymbica (p 138-139) has text copied from South African National Biodiversity Institute’s Plantzafrica.com which also has a clear copyright statement, and the images are the same as those used for the the HerbalFire.com website and Africanbulbs.com. Arracacia tolucensis (p 405-406) has images taken from Conabio‘s Malezas de México website (where the authors and contributors of each page are given), and the description appears to be an automatic translation of the Conabio dataGoogle Translation from Spanish to English of the Conabio text results in the error-strewn information presented by Lariushin.

Volume 2: Bupleurum gracillimum (p 217-219). The first block of text is copied verbatim from the Flora of China account, which is made available electronically on the eFloras website here. Lariushin has ignored the Flora of China copyright statement, and guidance on how to cite the Flora. The second block of text is also copied verbatim from the eFloras website, from the Flora of Pakistan account here. The five images that are used to illustrate this species are all copied from the Subject Database of Chinese Plants, here. Lariushin has cropped off the website accreditation and contributor information from the images before they were inserted into the book.

Volume 3: Cymopterus purpurascens (p. 216-217), has the first block of text and first image taken from the Wikipedia entry – the content is covered under the general Creative Commons license, and the image provided by Curtis Clark under a CC Share Alike copyright license. The other images used are from another Wikipedia site here (also submitted by Curtis Clark) and from Mary Winter’s images in the CalPhotos database (which has clear ban on using the image without written permission). The second block of text is copied verbatim from the Southwest Environment Information Network (SEINet), which has a clear use policy. The text for Endressa castellana (p. 387-388) is automatically translated (rather poorly) from the Spanish account in the Flora Vascular website, and the line drawing plate is taken from Flora Iberica Online.

Postscript

Readers will also be interested in Rudolf Schmid’s article on this publication, and other notorious cases of botanical plagarism, in his book review Beware Boriss’s bogus botany books! Bypass: Apiaceae, Cycadaceae, Nymphaeaceae, and Solanaceae, published in Taxon (Taxon 62: 431-433. April 2013).

m4s0n501

  9 Responses to “Copyright – the right to copy? Lariushin’s monographs of plant families”

  1. Mark – Thank you for exposing Boris Lariushin as what he is – an academic criminal. As one of the curators of the PhytoImages web site, I would be curious to know how many other photos Lariushin has illegally used. But as Peter Pelser (the victim in the Aciphylla photo robbery you cite above) said, I don’t want to buy his books to find out how many other cases of plagiarism exist. This man should be stopped! Maybe a lawsuit (class action) against the author and publisher would accomplish this?

  2. I am pleased to report that Boris Lariushin has contacted me to say that he is sorry for the inconvenience and has moved his botanical monograph books to a Private Access area for both Lulu and Createspace. These titles are no longer displayed on the Lulu website. The listing on Amazon.co.uk now has the Apiaceae volumes as ‘currenly unavailable’ from the main site, but you can still buy a copy of all three volumes for over £70 each from a linked bookseller (langton_info_england). The same goes for the two Solanaceae, the cycad and Nymphaeaceae volumes.

  3. Thanks for bringing this to our attention, Mark. I find that generally, people respect the Creative Commons licensing, and most commecial publications are willing to pay a fee for a license. It is people like this that will lead to a reluctance for Open Source publication and Creative Commons licensing.

    A class action would seem to be a good idea if Lariushin/Amazon.co.uk etc. continue to profit from the work of others.

    You should get your library to return the books and seek a refund.

    Also, in many countries plagiarism is a crime, and perhaps prosecution should be considered if they persist.

  4. Mark, thank you for alerting all of us to this plagiarism. If a class action suit is instituted, please count me in.

    Over the past years, I have found many instances of such illegal use of my web site, http://www.swcoloradowildflowers.com . I was going to give you the web address of a rare plant book seller in the Netherlands whose description of a rare book selling for $10,000 dollars was taken vertbatim from my web site. But in my Google search for the URL of that bookseller I found two more instances of plagiarism from the same section of my web site.

    Incredibly, one illegal use of my material is on
    Christies: http://www.christies.com/lotFinder/lot_details.aspx?intObjectID=4967518.

    The other, http://www.avibushistoriae.com/Gilii_%20Filippo_Luigi.htm, is a complete copy of a biographical entry from my web site.

    I am a retired Professor of English so I sadly know how prevalent plagiarism is.

  5. Thank you for bringing this to my attention Mark. I contribute to the Calphotos Database to share and contribute botanical information on the flora of the Intermountain West. It is always interesting and a pleasure to grant use of my photos to authors and graduate students in the USA and Canada. Thank you for your efforts to maintain high standards related to information sharing within the botanical community.

  6. I would like to post your article in BEN (Botanical Electronic News) and I would like to get your permission to do it.
    Adolf Ceska

    • Dear Adolf, I would be very happy for you to post this article on BEN or anywhere else, but please include a link back to the blog. If anyone else wouyld like to do the same then please just go ahead (with the link back), there is no need to ask permission.
      Best
      Mark

  7. Since writing this article I have become aware of a series of botanical books produced by Betascript Publishing. An example is a monograph on Podocarpus urbanii edited by Lambert, Tennoe and Henssonow (2010, ISBN 978-613-2-09448-3). This was available for sale on Amazon.com, and now has the following Amazon link – there is an image of the cover on Amazon.it. Although one may debate the merits of the book’s content, the publishers have been laudibly explicit in saying that “all parts of this book is extracted from from Wikipedia” and in providing proper accreditation of the content providers. At the back of the book is a comprehensive listing of “Article Sources and Contributors”, and a separate listing of “Image Sources, Licenses and Contributors”. No copyright is claimed, indeed on the imprint page “permission is granted to copy, distribute and/or modify this document under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License”, and a copy of the license is printed at the end of the book.

  8. A friend directed me to this page; I do not own, nor have I seen any of the books in question, but I am of course disgusted, partly because, although I do not mind my own pictures being used in someone else’s book, and would not even ask for any royalties, because after I have published them in the public domain, that would seem to defeat the object. However, as a matter of personal decency, I would expect people using the material to grant the courtesy of an acknowledgement.
    Of such people under the impression that they will make greater profits if they give the implication that they took all the pictures themselves?

 Leave a Reply

(required)

(required)

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>