Open-access supporters oppose US bill

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SPARC (The Scholarly Publishing & Academic Resources Coalition) is asking all supporters of public access to oppose the reintroduction of the ‘Fair Copyright in Research Works Act’ (H.R. 801) in the USA. This act met with considerable publisher support when its reintroduction was proposed earlier this month. However, SPARC said that it would reverse the NIH Public Access Policy and make it impossible for other federal agencies to put similar policies into place.

According to SPARC, H.R. 801 would, in effect, prohibit all US federal agencies from including the requirement to make research publicly available in any funding agreements and prohibit US agencies from obtaining a licence to publicly distribute, perform, or display such work by, for example, placing it on the internet.

‘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,’ said Jennifer McLennan, director of communications for SPARC.

‘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.’

McLennan and colleagues are asking public-access supporters to contact their Representatives no later than 28 February 2009 asking them to oppose H.R. 801.