ACTION: let's kill this anti-OA bill before it's even born!

You probably remember the wonderful new NIH law that passed last year:

On Dec 26th, 2007, President Bush signed the Bill that requires all NIH-funded research to be made available to the public.

The bill mandates all NIH-funded research to be made freely available to public within 12 months of publication.

You probably also remember that the big publishers opposed the law, using some very unsavoury tactics. Well, guess what? They are at it again. They are trying to sneak through Congress a new bill that is, in essence, the repeal of the NIH open access law. The bill, dubbed in a typical double-speak Orwellian fashion "Fair Copyright in Research Works Act (HR6845)" has now been introduced. It may not get out of committee in this Congress, but probably will after the new Congress is seated.

David Dooling writes:

Since Congress voted to encourage NIH to adopt an open access policy for scholarly publications that resulted from research it funded, the journal publishers have lobbied Congress to reverse it. It seems the efforts of publishing companies are beginning to pay off with the introduction of the bill HR 6845. The bill would shift rights away from the article authors, the researchers, and back to large publishing houses. In an age of internet publishing and voluntary peer review, what possible reason could their be for such a shift? How would increasing restrictions on scientific publications increase openness and access to scientific discovery, the very foundation of scientific advancement? These sort of copyright issues cut across the partisan divide, typically aligning members of Congress from both parties from areas of the country with strong content generation industries (TV, movies, music, print). In other words, members of Congress from California, New York, and Florida (Disney) or committee chairs who get a lot of money from these big media companies typically introduce and support these anti-competitive, anti-scientific pieces of legislation. This bill is no exception, being sponsored by John Conyers (D-MI), Darrell Issa (R-CA), Robert Wexler (D-FL), and Tom Feeney (R-FL).

John Timmer says:

In recent years, scientific publishing has changed profoundly as the Internet simplified access to the scientific journals that once required a trip to a university library. That ease of access has caused many to question why commercial publishers are able to dictate the terms by which publicly funded research is made available to the public that paid for it.

Open access proponents won a big victory when Congress voted to compel the National Institutes of Health to set a policy of hosting copies of the text of all publications produced by research it funds, a policy that has taken effect this year. Now, it appears that the publishing industry may be trying to get Congress to introduce legislation that will reverse its earlier decision under the guise of strengthening copyright protections.

And Revere adds:

I am one of those NIH supported researchers whose papers get locked up for decades behind copyright permission firewalls. I want you to have access to my research. I want the journals I publish in to be required to make it available to you after a reasonable time period (the shorter the better) as the NIH policy now does. It helps me professionally by making my work more widely disseminated. It helps me as a professional by making it possible to get access to scientific research, now inaccessible because of the predatory and outrageous charges of the large scientific publishers, the same people behind the Conyers legislation.

You can read more about the intentions of the bill here.

What can you do? Call your congresscritters and ask them to bury this bill. You have only until September 24th to do so!

There is a sample letter under the fold (along with the contact info for Congress), but it is usually much better if you write one of your own. If so, make it short, make it simple (so an average congressman can understand it), make it positive (better than bashing the slimy opposition) and make it personal (why do you personally support Open Access).

Then, use whatever online and offline tools are at your disposal (blogs, twitter, friendfeed, e-mail, newsgroups, personal contact) and spread the word - urge all your friends and colleages to contact their Representatives and Senators and ask them to Just Say No.

The sample letter:

Dear [Representative/Senator];

On behalf of [your organization], I strongly urge you to OPPOSE HR 6845, the Fair Copyright in Research Works Act, introduced to the House Judiciary Committee, Subcommittee on the Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet, on September 11, 2008. This bill would reverse the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Public Access Policy, prohibit American taxpayers from accessing any and all research funded by taxpayer dollars, and stifle critical advancements in lifesaving 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 4,000 new crucial biomedical articles were deposited in the last month alone. HR6845 would prohibit the deposit of these articles so that, as a result, researchers, physicians, health care professionals, families and individuals will be seriously impeded in their ability to access NIH-funded, critical health-related information.

[Why you support taxpayer access and the NIH policy]. The NIH policy must be allowed to continue to ensure public access to the results of research funded by the agency with taxpayer dollars. Please OPPOSE HR6845.


The list of people who are most important to be contacted:


name state fax

Senator Patrick Leahy VT 202-224-3479 (Chairman)
Senator Arlen Specter PA 202-228-1229 (Ranking Member)
Senator Jeff Sessions AL 202-224-3149
Senator Jon Kyl AZ 202-224-2207
Senator Dianne Feinstein CA 202-228-3954
Senator Joseph Biden DE 202-224-0139
Senator Charles Grassley IA 202-224-6020
Senator Richard Durbin IL 202-228-0400
Senator Sam Brownback KS 202-228-1265
Senator Edward M. Kennedy MA 202-224-2417
Senator Benjamin Cardin MD 202-224-1651
Senator Charles Schumer NY 202-228-3027
Senator Tom Coburn OK 202-224-6008
Senator Sheldon Whitehouse RI 202-228-6362
Senator Lindsey Graham SC 202-224-3808
Senator John Cornyn TX 202-228-2856
Senator Orrin Hatch UT 202-224-6331
Senator Herb Kohl WI 202-224-9787
Senator Russell Feingold WI 202-224-2725


name state fax
Rep. John Conyers, Jr. MI 202-225-0072 (Chairman)
Rep. Lamar Smith TX 202-225-8628 (Ranking Member)
Rep. Artur Davis AL 202-226-9567
Rep. Trent Franks AZ 202-225-6328
Rep. Howard Berman CA 202-225-3196
Rep. Zoe Lofgren CA 202-225-3336
Rep. Maxine Waters CA 202-225-7854
Rep. Linda T. Sanchez CA 202-226-1012
Rep. Brad Sherman CA 202-225-5879
Rep. Adam Schiff CA 202-225-5828
Rep. Elton Gallegly CA 202-225-1100
Rep. Dan Lungren CA 202-226-1298
Rep. Darrell Issa CA 202-225-3303
Rep. Robert Wexler FL 202-225-5974
Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz FL 202-226-2052
Rep. Ric Keller FL 202-225-0999
Rep. Tom Feeney FL 202-226-6299
Rep. Hank Johnson GA 202-226-0691
Rep. Steve King IA 202-225-3193
Rep. Luis Gutierrez IL 202-225-7810
Rep. Mike Pence IN 202-225-3382
Rep. William D. Delahunt MA 202-225-5658
Rep. Keith Ellison MN 202-225-4886
Rep. Melvin Watt NC 202-225-1512
Rep. Howard Coble NC 202-225-8611
Rep. Jerrold Nadler NY 202-225-6923
Rep. Anthony Weiner NY 202-226-7253
Rep. Betty Sutton OH 202-225-2266
Rep. Steve Chabot OH 202-225-3012
Rep. Jim Jordan OH 202-226-0577
Rep. Steve Cohen TN 202-225-5663
Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee TX 202-225-3317
Rep. Louie Gohmert TX 202-226-1230
Rep. Chris Cannon UT 202-225-5629
Rep. Rick Boucher VA 202-225-0442
Rep. Robert Scott VA 202-225-8354
Rep. Bob Goodlatte VA 202-225-9681
Rep. J. Randy Forbes VA 202-226-1170
Rep. Tammy Baldwin WI 202-225-6942
Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner, Jr. WI 202-225-3190

Let's do it right now! Deadline is September 24th, 2008. Let's stop this filthy bill before it even goes up for the vote.

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Why can't you be honest and admit that there are some - NOT big bad commercial publishers - who will be hurt by OA. Maybe if you would stop painting this as black-and-white, and realized that there are other stakeholders - scientists, scientific societies - who will be hurt, then maybe we can come up with something rational for all.

I'd also like you to be honest about PLoS and its enormous amounts of funding. PLoS is great, but it isn't a business model that other scientific societies will be able to adopt, unless Soros wants to fund everyone in perpetuity. No one is throwing gobs of money at the nonprofit scientific societies, and let's face it, PLoS staffers aren't so noble that they work for free, or even for the kinds of paltry salaries that typical nonprofit staffers make.

When you go in and blow up that building full of the big bad publishers, a few innocents in the pizza parlor on the ground floor get taken out too.

By Tell the Truth (not verified) on 19 Sep 2008 #permalink

hey 'tell the truth' how about you expand on just how this OA nonsense is going to hurt scientists?

By DrugMonkey (not verified) on 19 Sep 2008 #permalink

Adapt or die. Glad to see you admit it. I have often said to the SPARC folks and other OA advocates that this is their view, and they have denied it. Vociferously.

Tell you what. I'd like to adapt the way PLoS adapted. How about sharing some of those Soros big bucks with me? Look PLoS is great, but don't go pretending you pulled off some kind of adaptive miracle. You had money thrown at you. Lots of it. Your page charges are huge, your subscription fees are huge. This kind of adaptation is known as parasitism. Which is cool.

I have proposed that small nonprofit scientific societies (could be measured by financial status and/or size of membership) be exempted or allowed a longer delay time. After all, they contribute too, and if they go under, we have less science. You can't publish OA if you aren't publishing.

As we say in my part of the world, "You got a problem widdat?"

By Telling the truth (not verified) on 25 Sep 2008 #permalink

If these people vote yes on this bill, I pray that their jobs will be automatically down the tubes. If they refuse to listen to the ones that put them in office and fall in behind the "elite ones", they deserve what they get. VOTE NOOOOO

By want freedom (not verified) on 21 Mar 2010 #permalink