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Terms of Use

1. Preliminary statement

The German Federation for Biological Data e.V. (GFBio) is the authoritative, national contact point for issues concerning the management and standardisation of biological and environmental research data during the entire data life cycle. GFBio also acts as an information broker and mediates expertise and services between the GFBio data centers and the scientific community and provides a platform for different services at gfbio.org.

2. Scope of application

These terms of use govern the provisions of the Services and the use of these Services offered through the GFBio platform to their users. The use of the Services on the platform is governed exclusively by these terms of use, unless we expressly draw your attention to any supplemental terms. You can view and print out the currently valid terms of use on the GFBio platform.

3. Subject Matter of the Agreement

3.1 GFBio provides a platform at gfbio.org for scientists for different services covering all areas of research data management of biological and environmental research data. The services will be delivered as follows:

3.1.1 Data acquisition, quality control and standardisation
  • GFBio provides access to tools, standards and working platforms which can be used during data creation and might be suitable for preliminary data management and fully supported by the GFBio archiving centers.
  • GFBio associated data centers actively develop the open-source platforms for managing research data from the biodiversity and ecology BEXIS and Diversity Workbench. GFBio associated data centers offer:
  • support in setting up local instances of these platforms
  • user workshops and training events
  • compatibility of research packages which were managed with these platforms with the archival and publication workflows of the GFBio associated data centers.
3.1.2 Data submission, archiving and publication
  • GFBio provides the central national contact point for submission of biological and environmental research data and mediates data archiving in dedicated data centers to ensure a sustainable, long-term preservation and publication of data.
  • GFBio offers a single point of submission of research data packages via its web platform (gfbio.org). Users can start a submission request by filling out a web form and uploading data files or providing download links to data files. This service requires the user to log in and might incur charges (section 5.3).
  • A submission request can be also initiated and modified via a dedicated API. Users who wish to use this API must be registered (4.1), accept these Terms of Use and request a dedicated API account.
  • Every submission receives a unique internal identifier (submission ID) and a dedicated help desk ticket, which records all email communication between GFBio and the users.
  • Submission requests are reviewed within five eight-hour working days. If deemed appropriate for archiving and publication via one or more of the GFBio associated data centers, curators from the responsible data center perform data curation, prior to ingesting the data into their system. Data curation is editorial treatment of deposited data by well-trained data editors from the relevant biological domains. This includes quality control of data and metadata, harmonization of metadata by applying widely used terminologies, and promoting compliance with community standards. Data curation ensures the FAIRness (findability, accessibility, interoperability and reusability) of all data by checking for completeness, correctness, and machine readability of data and metadata as well as transfer of data submissions into open formats.
  • Research data packages receive unique, persistent identifiers (e.g. Digital Object Identifier, DOI), which can be used for data citation purposes. Depending on the workflows of the individual data centers, this can happen either immediately after ingesting the data or during the process of publication.
  • GFBio might recommend splitting complex research data packages across several of its associated data centers, to ensure the best quality of curation services. In such cases, more than one persistent identifier will be issued and GFBio ensures that these are interlinked for better data findability.
  • Upon request of the users, GFBio associated data centers may enforce a time-limited embargo on archived data, postponing the public release date of the data for up to 2 years. In exceptional cases users may request an extension of the embargo beyond this period at the discretion of the GFBio data centers. Four weeks before the embargo expires, GFBio will send an email reminder to the user. The data will be published automatically after four weeks, unless the user makes a different agreement with GFBio within four weeks.
3.1.3 Data Access
  • GFBio provides an integrated, open access portal for the data managed by its associated/collaborating data centers.
  • GFBio harvests the metadata of the data provided by its associated data centers and integrates it into a consolidated data discovery service. The service can be used free of charge and without login.
  • Users can search for data using an interactive search interface on the web platform (gfbio.org).
  • Users can search for data programmatically, using an Application Programming Interface (API).
  • Search results include data licensing information and a direct download link for the data at the respective data centers (GFBio does not hold a copy of the data).
  • Search results can be exported directly to the GFBio Visualisation and Analysis (VAT) tool.
3.1.4 Data analysis and interpretation:
  • GFBio mediates services for data analysis and visualization, based on the data managed and provided by the GFBio data centers.
  • The GFBio Visualization and Analysis (VAT) Tool can be used directly from the GFBio web platform (gfbio.org). The service can be used without login, with custom features available for logged in users.
3.1.5 Helpdesk
  • GFBio offers a help desk service for general inquiries on topics related to research data management in biodiversity, ecology and environmental data.
  • Users can send an inquiry via email or contact form, which will create a dedicated ticket on the GFBio helpdesk system.
  • GFBio helpdesk staff review the inquiries and reply within two eight-hour working days.
3.1.6 Knowledgebase
  • GFBio offers a collection of useful information in different digital formats, including but not limited to written articles, videos, and collection of relevant external links.
  • All articles are accessible through the GFBio web platform (gfbio.org) without login.
3.1.7 Data Management Planning Tool and Support
  • A Data Management Planning tool is available via the GFBio web platform (gfbio.org). Users can answer a series of questions, tailored to the requirements of the German Research Foundation (DFG), and receive an automatically generated Data Management Plan (DMP) in PDF form. This service can be used without login. Users who login can also save and edit their DMP on the GFBio platform.
  • Users can submit their automatically generated DMPs for review by GFBio. This can also be done without login, with the provision of an Email address.
  • GFBio reviews automatically generated DMPs upon request and suggests improvements based on communication with the users and in exchange with data management and publishing experts from its associated data centers. These improvements might include, but are not limited to, specifics about data handling prior to initiating a submission request with GFBio, specification of appropriate data centers for archival and publication, data management and publication cost estimation. Reviews are done within four weeks, assuming five eight-hour working days per week. GFBio is entitled to change the services provided at any time, to make new services available or to suspend services. GFBio will always take the users’ legitimate interests into consideration.
3.1.8 Terminology Service
  • The GFBio Terminology Service provides tools to find, explore, share and reuse terminologies for semantic enhancement of research platforms and data management.
  • The service can be accessed through the GFBio platform (gfbio.org) and through an API.

3.2 The services available on the GFBio platform also includes third party services to which access is only provided. The use of such services may be subject to regulations that differ from these terms of use or may be subject to additional regulations, which the respective service provider, for example associated/collaborating GFBio data centers, will point out to the user in the context of their terms of use. In this case any contractual relationship arises exclusively between the participating service provider and the participating user, GFBio is neither a representative nor does GFBio become a contractual partner.

3.3 Within the scope of the technical and operational possibilities, we endeavour to ensure that the use of the services is as uninterrupted as possible. However, technical faults, such as hardware and software errors, technical problems in the data lines, temporary restrictions or interruptions may occur.

4. Registration and conclusion of a contract

4.1 In order to use certain services via the platform gfbio.org, the user has to be registered on the GFBio platform with the identification of personal data - first name, family name, e-mail-address - and is also required to select a password („login-data“). Users may also register using a third-party identity provider (e.g. ORCID, GitHub). The uses of such services may be subject to regulations that differ from these terms of use or may be subject to additional regulations which the respective provider will point out to the user in the context of their terms of use and their privacy policy (section 3.2).The services can be used by any scientists who has understood, accepted and approved these terms of use and are at least 18 years of age.

4.2 By completing the online registration process or rather by using the API’s provided by GFBio, a contract of use is concluded between the user and GFBio subject to these terms of use. The subject of the contract of use is the use of the services via the platform gfbio.org.

4.3 There is no claim to the use of the services available via the GFBio platform; therefore your registration can be rejected without giving reasons.

4.4 The user is obliged to handle the login-data with care. In particular, the user is prohibited from disclosing the login-data to third parties and/or allowing third parties to access the services via the GFBio platform by bypassing the login data. GFBio may disable the user’s login-data at GFBio’s sole discretion without notice or explanation.

4.5 If the user breaches the obligations under the preceding paragraph 4.4 and his login-data is used by third parties, the user is liable for all activities that take place using the login-data. The user is not liable if the user is not responsible for the abuse of the login-data. The user shall immediately notify GFBio of any unauthorized use of the login-data or any other breach or threatened breach of the security on the GFBio platform.

4.6 The user assures that the login-data used are correct. The user is obliged to keep the login-data up-to-date at all times, and immediately notify GFBio of any changes.

4.7 Contract language is exclusively English.

5. Conditions of use

5.1 GFBio provides different services via the GFBio platform covering all areas of research data management as defined in section 3.1.

5.2 GFBio offers areas on the platform for the upload of contents, in particular - within the scope of these terms of use – for: - the upload of contents about the data management of user projects within the GFBio Data Management Plan Tool or within Helpdesk inquiries, - the upload of contents to the GFBio Visualization and Analysis (VAT) Tool and - the upload of research contents. Research contents mean material including and without limitation research data, text images, audio and video materials. The uploaded research contents must match the specific intended research context, comply with the strict research orientation of GFBio services. During the research data submission the user is obliged to set a minimum of descriptive metadata to ensure the findability, accessibility, interoperability and reusability of the research contents. Metadata should contain basic structured information about the research contents, so that others can understand and use the contents without further information.

5.3 Research contents uploaded to the GFBio platform will be subject to different services which includes in particular a data curation, advice and assistance to the user the scope of which is at the discretion of GFBio; the mediation of data archiving in dedicated associated/collaborating data centers to ensure a sustainable, long-term preservation and publication and the coordination of publication and/or embargoes if necessary.

5.4 The uploading of research contents to the GFBio platform is not a guarantee that the services will be provided; it is at the discretion of GFBio to decide whether the research contents are suitable for the services or not. If the uploaded research contents are not suitable, GFBio will inform the user within five eight-hour working days, provided the description of the research contents is sufficient to make the decision or the user responds in a timely manner to additional inquiries. In this case, any uploaded research contents and metadata will be completely removed from the GFBio platform. In any case, research contents may not be suitable for the services if the services are not used fairly by the user.

The fair use for the GFBio platform includes: - a maximum service request of three working hours - a maximum data volume of 10 GB - a maximum of one submission per day and ten per month.

GFBio reserves the right to refuse the upload of the research contents or to charge fees for uploaded research content beyond the aforementioned limits and/or for third-party fees resulting from data curation, storage and publication, in either case only after consultation of the user.

The uploading of research contents to the GFBio platform does not constitute a backup. GFBio does not guarantee the preservation of the contents until one or more of the GFBio data centers have successfully ingested them in their systems. Users must keep copies of the uploaded contents until the successful ingest has been confirmed by the respective data center(s). GFBio is not obliged to keep copies of the uploaded research contents, once these have been archived by the associated data centers. GFBio may do so in order to provide additional services to the users.

5.5 The offered service of data search via the GFBio platform includes the fair use of the access to the open access data portal; GFBio is entitled at its own discretion to technically limit the retrieval and download of research content through the search function of the GFBio platform, which means in particular: - Requests significantly beyond the average number of access attempts per time unit by other users of GFBio or - mass download of metadata and associated data e.g. for the purpose of content duplication or - the use of automated systems to extract data from the GFBio web pages for commercial purposes except for keeping web search indexes up to date. Such exceeding inquiries will automatically lead to error messages and/or a forced disconnection from the service unless prior authorization from GFBio is requested by the user.

5.6 GFBio does not assume any responsibility for the uploaded contents, research contents and metadata (contents) - no matter what kind. By uploading research content to GFBio the user confirms that the content was obtained, generated and otherwise treated in accordance to all applicable regulations for good scientific practice. The user is solely responsible for the contents and undertakes to GFBio not to upload any contents which, by its content or its form or design or in any other way violates applicable law, morality or these terms of use, is free form third-party rights, i.e. do not violate the rights of third parties and that the user is authorized to use these contents. In particular, it is not permitted to upload and publish the following contents, which are not to be understood as a final list: - contents violate the rights of third parties, in particular personal rights, copyrights, trademark rights and design rights; - contents are or contain commercial advertising; - contents which are threatening, degrading, insulting, slanderous or untrue; - contents which are pornographic, vulgar, obscene, offensive, harassing, discriminatory or glorify violence; - contents with depictions of violence; - contents which contain propaganda material of unconstitutional organizations or are inflammatory, anti-constitutional, racist or xenophobic.

5.7 The user must refrain from any activity that could impair the operation of the GFBio platform or the technical infrastructure behind it. These included in particular: - the use of software, scripts or databases in connection with the use of the GFBio platform; - the automatic reading, blocking, overwriting, modifying, copying of data and/or other content, unless this is necessary for the proper use of the platform.

5.8 Should there be any disruptions in the use of the platform or its functionalities, the user shall inform GFBio of this disruption immediately. The same applies if the user obtains information about content published by third parties which obviously violates applicable law or the rights of third parties.

5.9 GFBio can temporarily or permanently block or rather delete the user’s access to the services at the GFBio platform, if there is concrete evidence that a user is violating these terms of use or the applicable law or if GFBio has any other justified interest in blocking or deleting.

5.1 GFBio may delete some or all of the contents the user uploaded on the GFBio platform without notice. The prerequisite for this is that there are concrete indications that you have violated applicable law, good morals, these terms of use or third party rights, such as copyrights.

6. Rights of use

6.1 By submitting content to the GFBio platform the user grants GFBio a royalty-free, irrevocable, transferrable, fully-sublicensable, non-exclusive, spatially and temporally unlimited right to use the content with the corresponding metadata - if applicable - for the respective purposes referred to in section 3.1 and subject to these terms of use. This includes in particular: - the right to store the contents on the GFBio server and if required to publish them, in particular to make them available to the public via the GFBio platform, - to process/edit and reproduce the submitted contents for archive and publication purposes, and - if required to deposit your content and metadata to one of the associated/collaborating, publicly-accessible data centers which are committed to the long-term preservation of research data and providing permanent open access to it for a minimum archival period of 10 years. These data centers are granted the same rights as GFBio.

6.2 By submitting research content and metadata to the GFBio platform the contents will be published in accordance with the licensing choices the user makes. If a free license is chosen (for example Creative Commons), the rights and conditions of use associated with this license apply. Once a license has been issued, it cannot be changed retroactively.

6.3 The user declares to be entitled to the granting of rights of use made in section 6.1 and assures that the content submitted is free of third party rights which are contrary to the use for the purpose of this terms of use. The user releases GFBio from all claims of third parties arising from the demands of third parties.

7. Protection of content/Responsibility for content

7.1 The content available on the GFBio platform is primarily protected by the copyright or other property rights of GFBio, the users or other third parties who have made the respective content available. This content may only be used in accordance with these terms of use and the applicable law.

7.2 Some of the content available on the GFBio platform comes from GFBio, users and other third parties. GFBio does not check the completeness, accuracy and legality of the contents of the users and other third parties. GFBio therefore assumes no responsibility for the completeness, accuracy, legality and topicality of these contents. This also applies to the quality of the contents and their suitability for a specific purpose, and also insofar as it concerns third party contents on linked external websites.

8. Privacy Policy

All information on the processing of personal data can be found in the privacy policy of GFBio. This is available at www.gfbio.org/privacy-policy.

9. Liability

9.1 Those contents available on the GFBio platform provided by GFBio were created with best care and attention and will be updated on a regular basis. We do not accept liability for the quality, topicality or completeness of the contents provided by GFBio offered on the GFBio platform and their suitability for specific purposes. Liability claims which refer to material and/or non-material damage, which are caused by the use or disuse of the offered contents provided by GFBio on the GFBio platform respectively the use of inaccurate and incomplete contents are excluded, insofar as there is no evidence of willful or gross negligence on the part of GFBio. All offers are non-binding and without obligation. For damages resulting from slightly negligent violations of essential contractual obligations, the liability is limited to typical or foreseeable damages. The above limitations of liability also apply in the event of breaches of duty by the legal representatives, senior employees or vicarious agents of GFBio. GFBio is liable for damages resulting from injury to life, body or health, which are based on an willful and negligent breach of duty, as well as for damages according to the Product Liability Act without limitation.

9.2 GFBio is not liable for damages whose causes are beyond its control, in particular not for damages due to force majeure or for damages caused by uses or third parties in violation of these terms of use.

9.3 GFBio expressly reserves the right to edit, expand or delete sections of pages, or the entire publication, or to suspend publication temporarily or permanently, without separate announcement.

9.4 We do not guarantee that the GFBio platform is compatible with the hardware and software of your device. In addition, we do not guarantee that this content is available at any time or at certain times without restriction or that it meets certain performance or functional requirements.

10. Termination of use

10.1 GFBio and the user may terminate the user relationship at any time, without the need for a reason. The user may terminate the user relationship by discontinuing the use of the services via the GFBio platform. Upon termination the user no longer has access to his user account and the uploaded contents in the user account; GFBio reserves the right to delete the account as well as the uploaded contents. 10.2 The termination of usage does not include the deletion of research contents of the user already published via the GFBio platform except for the case that the user revokes the rights on the basis of § 42 UrhG (the work no longer corresponds to the conviction of the author); in this case GFBio is entitled to charge the costs incurred.

11. Amendment of the terms of use

11.1 GFBio ist entitled to amend or supplement the provision of these terms of use at any time with effect for the future, if this is required due to legal or functional adaptations of the GFBio platform, for example in the case of technical changes.

11.2 An amendment or supplement shall be notified to the user by e-mail at the latest six weeks before its entry into force, without the need to send the details of the amended or supplemented conditions or the overall revision of the conditions; it shall suffice to inform the user of the amendments and supplements made. In the announcement, GFBio will provide a link under which the new version of the terms of use can be viewed in its entirety.

11.3 If the user does not object to the amendments and supplements within 30 day of the announcement of the amendments and supplements and continues to use the service, this shall be deemed to be agreement with the amendments and supplements; GFBio will point this out separately in the announcement.

12.Final provisions

12.1 Should any provision of these terms of use be or become ineffective, this shall not affect the validity of the remaining provisions.

12.2 These terms of use are subject to German law. The place of jurisdiction for all disputes arising from these terms of use is, as far als legally permissible, Bremen.

These Terms of Use are in version 1.0. Developed in cooperation with: MLS LEGAL (Institut für IT-, Medien- und Immaterialgüterrecht und Rechtsanwalts- und Fachanwaltsgesellschaft, Bremen).