[Insight-users] OPEN ACCESS: Bill Would Block NIH Public Access Policy -- Kaiser 2008 (911): 1 -- ScienceNOW
luis.ibanez at kitware.com
Sun Sep 14 10:45:52 EDT 2008
"Bill Would Block NIH Public Access Policy"
By Jocelyn Kaiser
ScienceNOW Daily News
11 September 2008
Some members of Congress would like to overturn a controversial new
policy that requires scientists with grants from the U.S. National
Institutes of Health (NIH) to post their papers in a free online
database. Today, an important House committee grilled NIH about the
policy and floated a proposal that scientific publishers say is needed
to protect their products.
NIH says compliance has risen to 56%, or about 3300 papers submitted
each month, since the rule took effect in April. (The agency could
potentially suspend the grant of an investigator who ignores the policy
but is so far relying on less punitive measures, such as reminders).
Meanwhile, some commercial and society publishers, such as the American
Physiological Society (APS), have complained that the policy infringes
on their copyrights and will put them out of business by cutting into
their subscription base.
Now the publishers have found allies on the powerful House Judiciary
Committee, chaired by Representative John Conyers (D–MI). At a 2-hour
hearing of the Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet, and Intellectual
Property, Conyers and others questioned the need for the policy when the
public can already obtain the papers through a subscription or at a
library. Moreover, most journals make their content free after 12 months.
NIH Director Elias Zerhouni defended the policy. He argued that PubMed
Central is enhancing the papers by linking to molecular databases and
other papers. "The real value is the connectivity," Zerhouni said. He
also claimed that "there is no evidence that this has been harmful" to
publishers. In response, APS Executive Director Martin Frank, whose
society publishes 14 journals, disagrees, telling Science that some
journal editors believe the new policy is leading to "fewer eyeballs
coming to their sites."
A bill introduced today by Conyers and two other members would bar any
federal agency from requiring "the transfer or license" to the
government of a paper that has been produced in part with nongovernment
funds--a reference to the publisher's costs for peer review and
production. The Fair Copyright in Research Works Act (HR 6845) would
mean that neither NIH nor any other federal agency could require
grantees to submit accepted papers to a free archive.
There is no companion bill in the Senate, and Congress is not expected
to act on the legislation before it adjourns later this month. Jonathan
Band, a Washington, D.C., attorney who represents the American Library
Association, which favors open access, says the bill's sweeping
provisions are a fatal flaw. "It goes far beyond the NIH policy. It
limits a lot of what the federal government can do," he says. But the
keen interest the House Judiciary Committee showed today in the topic
suggests that the debate is not over.
The copyrights that the American Physiological Society claims to
own are the copyrights that *authors* of papers have transferred
to them as the requirement for publishing. As we all know,
Journals *do not* generate content.
Something to keep in mind every time that you transfer
*for free* the copyright of your papers to Journals, as well
as every time that you are required to pay for a copy of
(what used to be) your own papers.
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