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Attack on Open Access

Even very popular government mandates have opponents, and the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) Public Access Policy certainly has its critics.

According to the agency, “The NIH Public Access Policy implements Division G, Title II, Section 218 of PL 110-161 (Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2008). The law states:”

The Director of the National Institutes of Health shall require that all investigators funded by the NIH submit or have submitted for them to the National Library of Medicine’s PubMed Central an electronic version of their final, peer-reviewed manuscripts upon acceptance for publication, to be made publicly available no later than 12 months after the official date of publication: Provided, That the NIH shall implement the public access policy in a manner consistent with copyright law.

Critics of the policy are making a move, yet again, to eviscerate it.

Last month, Representatives Darrel Issa (R-CA) and Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) introduced The Research Works Act, H.R. 3699. The bill is currently referred to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform (which Rep. Issa chairs).

The Association of American Publishers lauds the bill, which it describes as

… [prohibiting] federal agencies from unauthorized free public dissemination of journal articles that report on research which, to some degree, has been federally-funded but is produced and published by private sector publishers receiving no such funding. It would also prevent non-government authors from being required to agree to such free distribution of these works. Additionally, it would preempt federal agencies’ planned funding, development and back-office administration of their own electronic repositories for such works, which would duplicate existing copyright-protected systems and unfairly compete with established university, society and commercial publishers.

(Emphasis mine)

Evolutionary biologist and Public Library of Science co-founder Michael Eisen has done some research, finding that 12 of Reed Elsivier’s (and their senior executives) 31 political contributions for 2011 went to Rep. Maloney, co-sponsor of the bill, totaling $8,500. He also argues that while the bill refers to “private-sector research work,” the definition of such in the bill encompasses research products that receive funds from government agencies, thus invalidating the NIH Public Access Policy.

Some Blogosphere reactions to the bill include:

SOPA and the Research Works Act: Evil master plan or do publishers think so little of us? from Library Attack

Representatives Issa (R-CA) and Maloney (D-NY) introduce anti-open access legislation from Knowledge Ecology International

Congress Considers Paywalling Science You Already Paid For
Congress wants to limit open access publishing for the US government’s $28B/year subsidized research from BoingBoing

Why Is Open-Internet Champion Darrell Issa Supporting an Attack on Open Science? from The Atlantic Online

Scholarly Societies: It’s time to abandon the AAP over The Research Works Act from Confessions of a Science Librarian

New bill to block open access to publicly-funded research from Peter Suber

The Alliance for Taxpayer Access, an Open Access advocacy group, already has a Take Action page, asking supporters of the NIH Public Access Policy to call Reps. Issa and Maloney, as well as other members of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

We at Fairly Used will continue to look for news and reactions to this bill.