The arguments that have been made there about copyright (a completely separate issue from ICZN availability), private publication and peer review (in which the ICZN effectively has no interest) are irrelevant to the question of whether the works count as published for ICZN purposes. The important details in that regard are:
- 1. Pickering had 50 copies of each of the works professionally printed in 1995 (at least one was printed later in 1999). I have not personally seen the works in question, but the indications are that the diagnoses presented therein would satisfy ICZN requirements.
- 2. No printed copies of the works were deposited in institution libraries (and Pickering has objected strenuously to suggestions that he should have done so); however, copies were distributed to various recipients. At least some copies were distributed shortly after printing.
- 3. An excerpt or reprint of one of the works was distributed as an insert in 1996 with an issue of the popular magazine _Prehistoric Times_.
As a reminder, the ICZN requirements for a work to count as 'published' are:
8.1. Criteria to be met. A work must satisfy the following criteria:
8.1.1. it must be issued for the purpose of providing a public and permanent scientific record,
8.1.2. it must be obtainable, when first issued, free of charge or by purchase, and
8.1.3. it must have been produced in an edition containing simultaneously obtainable copies by a method that assures numerous identical and durable copies.
Do Pickering's works meet those requirements? 50 copies is low for a publication run but I don't think it can be argued to fail the requirements of 8.1.3. Publications existing in similar or lower numbers have been accepted as valid in the past. Similarly, the fact that Pickering distributed copies to various recipients suggests at least a nominal accordance with 8.1.2 (that most of these recipients, such as Michael Crichton and Stephen Spielberg, appear to have not been working palaeontologists is problematic but does not violate any explicit ICZN requirement). However, I think that a strong argument can be made that by refusing to place any copies in public depositories, Pickering has failed to meet the requirements of 8.1.1, a "public and permanent scientific record", whatever his original intentions may have been ("by their fruits you shall know them", to insert a touch of pretension). To provide a permanent scientific record, it is necessary that future researchers be able to evaluate the publication; if they are unable to gain access to a copy then they are unable to evaluate it. Unless any of the recipients of Pickering's publications take it upon themselves to secure the future availability of the works, they will end up being lost to history. As already noted by Mickey, the _Prehistoric Times_ insert, having had a much wider distribution, is a potential exception to this problem; my personal inclination would be to accept the names diagnosed therein as available though again the future availability of the work is a pending question.
Indeed, hovering over all of this is a much broader question about the publication requirements of the ICZN. Implicit in the current rules is the assumption that "once available, always available" but time, of course, is a great destroyer. In my earlier post, I discussed the rare Japanese journal Lansania, for some issues of which only a handful of (or even single) copies survive while others may have been lost entirely. There can be no doubt that the publisher of Lansania, Kyukichi Kishida, intended these issues to provide a "public and permanent scientific record"; they have evidently failed to meet that intention. What becomes of taxa whose original descriptions can no longer be evaluated?