From Ohmygov (by way of LibraryStuff), Bill would ban free publication of taxpayer funded research
On February 3rd, Representative John R. Conyers (MI-14) introduced H.R. 801, a bill also known as the Fair Copyright in Research Works Act.
According to the Congressional Record summary of the bill (as of 2/3/09), The Fair Copyright in Research Works Act:
prohibits any federal agency from imposing any condition, in connection with a funding agreement, that requires the transfer or license to or for a federal agency, or requires the absence or abandonment, of specified exclusive rights of a copyright owner in an extrinsic work.
Prohibits any federal agency from: (1) imposing, as a condition of a funding agreement, the waiver of, or assent to, any such prohibition; or (2) asserting any rights in material developed under any funding agreement that restrain or limit the acquisition or exercise of copyright rights in an extrinsic work.
Defines “funding agreement” as any contract, grant, or other agreement entered into between a federal agency and any person under which funds are provided by a federal agency for the performance of experimental, developmental, or research activities.
Defines “extrinsic work” as any work, other than a work of the U.S. government, that is related to a funding agreement and is also funded in substantial part by, or results from a meaningful added value contributed by, one or more nonfederal entities that are not a party to the funding agreement.”
In sum, the bill would reverse the National Institute of Health (NIH) policy that allows government funded research to be easily available and accessible and copyright free. What is more disconcerting is that it would also extend to other governmental agencies from having similar open access policies. Theoretically if this were to pass, taxpayers who funded research in the first place would have to pay twice for the research: first to fund it and second to access it via a for-profit journal. Several associations, including the American Library Association, are against the bill.
For further reading, check out the Electronic Frontier Foundation‘s legislative analysis post “Open Access” Policies Threatened by Copyright Bill.
The Open Access News has been following this bill and providing viewpoints on it:
Novelist Richard Roberts slams the Conyers bill (3/23)
John Willinsky on the Conyers bill (3/23)