Contact Congress online through the ATA Legislative Action Center
February 11, 2009
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 to express your support for public access to taxpayer-funded research and ask that he or she oppose H.R.801. Visit the Action Center for draft letter text.
H.R. 801 is designed to amend current copyright law and carves out a subclass of copyrighted works (Section 201, Title 17) -- precisely those that are supported by taxpayers -- and makes it illegal for the government to require that that special subclass by made freely available to taxpayers as a condition of the federal support. H.R. 801 significantly over-values the contribution made by publishers while ignoring not only the support of taxpayers, but also the interests of researchers, authors and peer-reviewers, all of whom contribute to the process of scholarly publishing without direct remuneration. 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.
Director of Communications
(The Scholarly Publishing & Academic Resources Coalition)
(202) 296-2296 ext 121
jennifer [at] arl [dot] org
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