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« Invention to Venture Urbana 2009: Entrepreneurship in the Life Sciences! | Main | President Obama Addresses the National Academy of Science »

February 12, 2009

NIH Public Access Mandate in Jeopardy!

An email from ARL (Association of Research Libraries) concerning a recently submitted bill, supported by some of our largest publishers, that would reverse the NIH Public Access mandate, and also make it impossible for other government agencies to start similar programs.

The basis theses of the NIH mandate is that research publications that were supported by funding from the National Institutes of Health -- we have many researchers on this campus who are so supported -- must be made freely available to all within year of publication. The thought is that the citizens paid for the research so they should have access to it!

The publishers are saying that this infringes on their copyrights, but the mandate requires the authors to make available THEIR version of their work; that is, the version before they hand over copyrights to the publishers (which we're encouraging them NOT to do, but that's another story!)

Read on for more information as well as a recommendation that we contact our congressmen about this proposed legislation.

Katie Newman
U of Illinois Biotechnology Librarian
----------------

From: Jennifer McLennan
Subject: [SPARC-ADVOCACY] CALL TO ACTION: Ask your Representative to oppose the H.R. 801 ­ The Fair Copyright in Research Works Act

Last week, the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee (Rep. John Conyers, D-MI) re-introduced a bill that would reverse the NIH Public Access Policy and make it impossible for other federal agencies to put similar policies into place. The legislation is H.R. 801: the “Fair Copyright in Research Works Act” ( http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.uscongress/legislation.111hr801).

All supporters of public access – researchers, libraries, campus administrators, patient advocates, publishers, and others – are asked to please contact your Representative no later than February 28, 2009 to express your support for public access to taxpayer-funded research and ask that he or she oppose H.R.801. Draft letter text is included below. As always, it’s important to let us know what action you’re able to take, via http://www.taxpayeraccess.org/action/log.html.

H.R. 801 is designed to amend current copyright law and create a new category of copyrighted works (Section 201, Title 17). In effect, it would:

1. Prohibit all U.S. federal agencies from conditioning funding agreements to require that works resulting from federal support be made publicly available if those works are either: a) funded in part by sources other than a U.S. agency, or b) the result of "meaningful added value" to the work from an entity that is not party to the agreement.

2. Prohibit U.S. agencies from obtaining a license to publicly distribute, perform, or display such work by, for example, placing it on the Internet.

3. Stifle access to a broad range of federally funded works, overturning the crucially important NIH Public Access Policy and preventing other agencies from implementing similar policies.

4. Because it is so broadly framed, the proposed bill would require an overhaul of the well-established procurement rules in effect for all federal agencies, and could disrupt day-to-day procurement practices across the federal government.

5. Repeal the longstanding "federal purpose" doctrine, under which all federal agencies that fund the creation of a copyrighted work reserve the "royalty-free, nonexclusive right to reproduce, publish, or otherwise use the work" for any federal purpose. This will severely limit the ability of U.S. federal agencies to use works that they have funded to support and fulfill agency missions and to communicate with and educate the public.

Because of the NIH Public Access Policy, millions of Americans now have access to vital health care information through the PubMed Central database. Under the current policy, nearly 3,000 new biomedical manuscripts are deposited for public accessibility each month. H.R.801 would prohibit the deposit of these manuscripts, seriously impeding the ability of researchers, physicians, health care professionals, and families to access and use this critical health-related information in a timely manner.

All supporters of public access -- researchers, libraries, campus administrators, patient advocates, publishers, and others -- are asked to contact their Representatives to let them know you support public access to federally funded research and oppose H.R. 801. Again, the proposed legislation would effectively reverse the NIH Public Access Policy, as well as make it impossible for other federal agencies to put similar policies into place.

Thank you for your support and continued persistence in supporting this policy. You know the difference constituent voices can make on Capitol Hill.

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact Heather or myself anytime.

All best,

Jennifer

--------------------------
Jennifer McLennan
Director of Communications
SPARC
(The Scholarly Publishing & Academic Resources Coalition)
http://www.arl.org/sparc
(202) 296-2296 ext 121
jennifer@arl.org

Please consider the environment before printing this e-mail.

-------------------------

Draft letter text:

Dear Representative;

On behalf of [your organization], I strongly urge you to oppose H.R. 801, “the Fair Copyright in Research Works Act,” introduced to the House Judiciary Committee on February 3, 2009. This bill would amend the U.S. Copyright Code, prohibiting federal agencies from requiring as a condition of funding agreements public access to the products of the research they fund. This will significantly inhibit our ability to advance scientific discovery and to stimulate innovation in all scientific disciplines.

Most critically, H.R. 801 would reverse the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Public Access Policy, prohibit American taxpayers from accessing the results of the crucial biomedical research funded by their taxpayer dollars, and stifle critical advancements in life-saving research and scientific discovery.

Because of the NIH Public Access Policy, millions of Americans now have access to vital health care information from the NIH’s PubMed Central database. Under the current policy, nearly 3,000 new biomedical manuscripts are deposited for public accessibility each month. H.R.801 would prohibit the deposit of these manuscripts, seriously impeding the ability of researchers, physicians, health care professionals, and families to access and use this critical health-related information in a timely manner.

H.R. 801 affects not only the results of biomedical research produced by the NIH, but also scientific research coming from all other federal agencies. Access to critical information on energy, the environment, climate change, and hundreds of other areas that directly impact the lives and well being of the public would be unfairly limited by this proposed legislation.

[Why you support taxpayer access and the NIH policy].

The NIH and other agencies must be allowed to ensure timely, public access to the results of research funded with taxpayer dollars. Please oppose H.R.801.

Sincerely,
(name)

[END LETTER TEXT]

Posted by Katie Newman at February 12, 2009 1:12 PM