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Public Domain Image Databases for Taxonomic Research and Education:
A Case Study, Protist Image Database

How people are using our database

In addition to the user's contributions and collaborations mentioned above, we are accepting various requests or questions from users via e-mail (protist@i.hosei.ac.jp). Requests from users are for permission of use of images in their webpages or in printing (mostly textbooks or CD-ROM), or at poster presentations or in papers (e.g. master thesis). Others are requests for species identification or supplying various strains of protists or questions on culturing protists, etc.
On one hand, we have been distributing CD-ROMs copying a part of our database upon user's requests with no charge (in Japan only; version 1 was pressed 1,000 copies in 1995, version 2 pressed 5,000 copies in 1996 and version 3 pressed 10,000 copies in 1998). Our CD-ROM contains only one type of enlarged-image files (768 x 512 pixels) because of smaller capacity of CD-ROM (640 M bytes). However, as number of images increased, a single CD-ROM became insufficient to contain all images even if limited the enlarged-image files for only one type. So, we are now planing for the distribution of our database contents on DVD-ROM.
Our CD-ROM distribution service has various benefits for both researchers making databases and its users. For the researchers, as CD-ROM can be treated like printings in library, CD-ROM publishing would be a best choice for preserving database contents under present conditions that there is still no public organizations for preserving voluntary-delivered (or self-published) information, which will be discussed later. And then, it may lead to an evaluation for our databasing activity as scientific career. For users, as the databases containing many image files tend to big size, off-line access using CD-ROM is better than on-line access through low-speed computer network.

Table 1 The state of CD-ROM distribution

GroupNo. of UsersNo. of CD

Researchers at2631598
Other Institutes
Private Company
Teachers at1684372
High school
Middle school
Primary school
Company, etc.46105
Undergraduate students
High school students


On receipt of requests by e-mail, we asked user's occupations and for what purposes they want to use our CD-ROM.

Currently, our CD-ROM (version 3) has been distributed to more than 600 people, and the number of CD-ROM distributed reached about 7000 (Table 1). To save distribution costs, we are asking users to cooperate for secondary distribution, so that the 600 users helped us to distribute 7000 CD-ROMs to other users. Of the 7000 CD-ROMs, about 4400 CDs were distributed by 168 school teachers to their colleagues within their communities at prefecture- or city-level.

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