Lawmakers in both the House of Representatives and the Senate have introduced identical bills that would require free access to published results of federally funded research. Open-access advocates are hoping the legislation will move more swiftly than previous versions of it, while publishers are calling it “unnecessary and a waste of federal resources.”
Called the Fair Access to Science & Technology Research Act, the legislation is similar to a bill (H.R. 4004) that was introduced last year by Rep. Michael F. Doyle (D-Pa.). That bill went nowhere. The new bill would require federal agencies that annually fund $100 million or more in scientific research to make the results of that research freely available in a federal repository within six months of publication. Unlike previous versions, the bill would also require that such results be distributed in formats and under terms that enable reuse, including text mining.
“Breakthroughs in technology, science, medicine, and dozens of other disciplines are made every year due to the billions in research funding provided by the American people,” says Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), who introduced the Senate version of the bill along with Sen. John Cornyn III (R-Texas). “Making those findings available to all Americans is the best way to lead the next generation of discovery and innovation or create the next game-changing business.” In the House, the bill was introduced by Reps. Doyle, Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), and Kevin W. Yoder (R-Kan.).
Open-access supporters applauded the introduction of the bill. “I am particularly pleased that this legislation addresses both greater access to research and greater reuse through open licensing,” says Steven J. Bell, president of the Association of College & Research Libraries. “As scholars undertake new research, it is crucial to build on the works of others who came before.”
Publishers remain opposed to the bill, calling it more onerous than previous versions. “The overly broad reuse rights in the new bill represent a further government encroachment on publishers’ economic interests in copyright, particularly if such reuse is for commercial purposes,” says Glenn S. Ruskin, director of the Office of Public Affairs at the American Chemical Society, which publishes dozens of chemistry-related journals and C&EN.