Dr Mike Taylor at the Department of Earth Sciences, University of Bristol wrote the following article in the Guardian:
The US Research Works Act would allow publishers to line their pockets by locking publicly funded research behind paywalls.
This is the moment academic publishers gave up all pretence of being on the side of scientists. Their rhetoric has traditionally been of partnering with scientists, but the truth is that for some time now scientific publishers have been anti-science and anti-publication. The Research Works Act, introduced in the US Congress on 16 December, amounts to a declaration of war by the publishers.
The USA’s main funding agency for health-related research is the National Institutes of Health, with a $30bn annual budget. The NIH has a public access policy that says taxpayer-funded research must be freely accessible online. This means that members of the public, having paid once to have the research done, don’t have to pay for it again when they read it – a wholly reasonable policy, and one with enormous humanitarian implications because it means the results of medical research are made freely available around the world.
This has slipped through under the radar. I wasn’t even aware of it until yesterday until an email on a list a subscribe to (thanks Danny Kingsley) came through my desk which included the following:
The Research Works Act (http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c112:H.R.3699) is basically saying that publishers have intellectual property invested in work that they publish, so that the NIH and other mandates making research available open access are illegal.
Peter Suber says of the Act: “A new bill, The Research Works Act (H.R.3699), designed to roll back the NIH Public Access Policy and block the development of similar policies at other federal agencies, has been introduced into the U.S. House of Representatives….Essentially, the bill seeks to prohibit federal agencies from conditioning their grants to require that articles reporting on publicly funded research be made accessible to the public online. Supporters of public access need to speak out against this proposed legislation.”
Arthur Sale said in a post to GOAL: “There is one aspect of the proposed Act HR3699 that is very interesting. It is an admission by the publishers involved that they do not at present have any intrinsic intellectual property right to control the disposition of the Version of Record otherwise known as the ‘publisher’s pdf’. The Act is an attempt to create a new right. You should read the full proposed Act (see Note 4). It is absurd, and badly drafted, perhaps deliberately to mislead.”
More on this can be found here:
- “Research Bought, Then Paid For”, Michael Eisen – New York Times – http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/11/opinion/research-bought-then-paid-for.html?_r=1
- “Librarians, Open Access Advocates ‘Vehemently Oppose’ Research Works Act”, Michael Kealley, The Digital Shift – http://www.thedigitalshift.com/2012/01/publishing/librarians-open-access-advocates-vehemently-oppose-research-works-act/
- Elsevier-funded NY Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney Wants to Deny Americans Access to Taxpayer Funded Research – Mike Eisen – http://www.michaeleisen.org/blog/?p=807
- Trying to roll back the clock on Open Access: Research Works Act introduced – American Library Association – District Dispatch
- January 9 – http://www.districtdispatch.org/
- An example of one of the letters to Congress opposing the bill is Tim O’Reilly’s here: https://www.popvox.com/bills/us/112/hr3699/comment/263013
- Several AAP members have stated they do not want to have anything to do with the bill. Here are a couple of examples:
- Pennsylvania State University Press says No to Research Works Act – http://bit.ly/x9UzXE
- Peter Suber asks :” Can AAP Members stay neutral in the row over the Research Works Act?” http://poynder.blogspot.com/2012/01/can-aap-members-stay-neutral-in-row.html
And on Twitter: