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Publishers Applaud Legislation To End Open Access to Federally Funded Research

Last month Rep. Darrell E. Issa introduced legislation, the Research Works Act that would effectively prohibit the federal government from requiring open, free access to federally funded research.

The Association of American Publishers issued a statement in support of this legislation.

Peter Suber has been tracking this and Gary Price has links to Peter’s posts and other information about this issue here.

Gary also has an interesting post about some members of the AAP that you would think might oppose the Research Work Act, but who have not yet spoken out against it or the AAP announcement.

See also:

  • Why Is Open-Internet Champion Darrell Issa Supporting an Attack on Open Science?, by Rebecca J. Rosen, The Atlantic (Jan 5 2012).

    [The] bill would prohibit all federal agencies from putting any privately published articles into an online database, even — and this is the kicker — those articles based on research funded by the public if they have received “any value-added contribution, including peer review or editing” from a private publisher. This is a direct attack on the National Institutes of Health’s PubMed Central, the massive free online repository of articles resulting from research funded with NIH dollars. Similar bills have been introduced twice before, in 2008 and 2009, and have failed both times.

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  1. B.Klein says:

    I think one can hardly equate the taxpayer $millions investment in Government sponsored research with a publisher’s cost for peer-review and editing of a manuscript that summarizes that research. Without Government funding to support the actual research, there would be no article.

    What is the purpose of U.S. research dollars? Is it to meet the needs of the funding agency on behalf of the nation OR to advance science for the public good OR is it to subsidize the scientific publishing industry? Just by funding the research, the Government IS subsidizing the scientific publishing industry

    That aside, HR 3699 conflicts with established policies and law. It is not only contrary to common sense, but is contrary to current procurement law and data rights provisions in the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) and the Defense Federal Acquisition Regulation Supplement (DFARS). The policy permits Federal contractors to retain rights to software and other technical data generated by Federal grants and contracts, in exchange for royalty free use by or on behalf of the government. While the contractor may assign its copyright in “scientific and technical articles based on or containing data first produced in the performance of a contract” to a publisher, the Government’s license rights attach to the articles upon creation and later assignment by the contractor to a publisher are subject to these rights.

    HR 3699 is also preempted by the America Competes Reauthorization Act of 2010 http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/about/BILLS-111hr5116enr.pdf
    (a) ESTABLISHMENT.—The Director shall establish a working group under the National Science and Technology Council with the responsibility to coordinate Federal science agency research and policies related to the dissemination and long-term stewardship of the results of unclassified research, including digital data and peer-reviewed scholarly publications, supported wholly, or in part, by funding from the Federal science agencies.

    There are other issues with the bill, such as when a government employee is a co-author. A “joint work” is a work prepared by two or more authors with the intention that their contributions be merged into inseparable or interdependent parts of a unitary whole (17 USC § 101). The authors of a joint work are co-owners of the copyright in the work, unless there is an agreement to the contrary (17 USC §201).” Since the Government is the “author” and owner of works created by federal employees in the scope of their employment, the Government can copy and distribute works made jointly by non-Government parties and employees working within the scope of their Government jobs.

  2. jajacobs says:

    Thanks for this comment, Bonnie. Here is a link to an article that may be of interest:

    Who Owns Government-Funded Research Papers?, By Emily Badger, Miller-McCune (January 18, 2012).

  3. jrjacobs says:

    A draft resolution is working its way through the ALA Committee on Legislation. Here’s the text as of 1/21/12:


    WHEREAS, Research sponsored by the United States government is funded by public tax dollars and conducted in the public interest; and

    WHEREAS, Public access to federally funded research is necessary for the advancement of knowledge in the United States and throughout the world, and is essential to maintaining an informed citizenry; and

    WHEREAS, The American Library Association supports equitable public access to information collected, compiled, produced, sponsored, and disseminated by the Federal government; and

    WHEREAS, The National Institutes of Health (NIH) Public Access Policy ensures that the public has open access to the published results of NIH-funded research by requiring scientists who receive NIH funds to submit final peer-reviewed journal manuscripts to the digital archive PubMed Central no later than 12 months after publication; and

    WHEREAS, Faculty, researchers, students, and the general public now have no-fee access to an important electronic resource, PubMed Central, which contains more than two million full text articles accessed by nearly half a million users every day; and

    WHEREAS, The NIH Public Access Policy serves as a model for public dissemination of federally funded, peer-reviewed journal manuscripts for other U.S. agencies and departments; and

    WHEREAS, U.S. Representative Darrell Issa and Representative Carolyn Maloney have introduced H.R. 3699, the Research Works Act; and

    WHEREAS, The bill, if enacted, nullifies the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Public Access policy implemented in 2008; and

    WHEREAS, This bill, if enacted, prohibits the NIH Public Access Policy model of no-fee dissemination of federally funded research after an embargo period to be emulated by any other federal agency or department; and

    WHEREAS, This bill, if enacted, would require U.S. taxpayers to pay a fee for access to peer-reviewed research already funded by their tax dollars; and now, therefore, be it

    RESOLVED, That the American Library Association (ALA):

    1. Urge the U.S. Congress to oppose the Research Works Act, H.R. 3699, as it not only threatens future public access to federally funded research, it nullifies the public access already provided to NIH peer-reviewed journal manuscripts; and

    2. Reaffirm its support for the expansion of the NIH public-access policy to other federal agencies and departments.

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