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Policy

Strong Open Access Bill Introduced In Congress

Publishing: House, Senate measure goes further than past efforts to broaden access to results of taxpayer-funded work

by Britt E. Erickson
February 21, 2013 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 91, ISSUE 8

Doyle
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Credit: U.S. House of Representatives
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Credit: U.S. House of Representatives

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.”

Wyden
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Credit: U.S. Senate
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Credit: U.S. Senate

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.

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Comments
Nicholas Lange (February 20, 2013 5:52 PM)
I understand the stance of the ACS on this, but when you consider that all of this research and development data is in fact information that has been disseminated in a classroom that taxpayers built, using equipment and materials that we provide, under grants we provide, and using people that are there because of the scholarships and grants we provide, that have skills and talents that we already paid to develop; and the fact that as stated, this is information that has in fact been disseminated in a public place,we call that giving away intellectual property, just as my statement here is. The public is well within it's right to demand it and to use it, improve it, change it, or let it sit idle.
Nicholas Lange (February 20, 2013 6:09 PM)
The stance of the ACS is thus that NO ONE not permitted by the descendants of Einstein or Bose be allowed to use anything associated with E=MC2. Same with DNA. Same with carbon fiber, steel alloys, the car you don't apparently own as purchased property and so have no legal right to change the tires on according to the ACS, and every other single thing on this world. Public work is owned in part by the public. Our resource. We already bought it. Academics and people under public grants already sold it.
Dan (February 21, 2013 9:32 AM)
I applaud and agree with your statements, Nicholas. It has never made sense to me that taxpayer money is used to fund research/pay researcher salaries - yet the results are not freely available to the public that paid for that research.

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