On September 11, 2008, the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee (Rep. John Conyers, D-MI) introduced a bill that would effectively reverse the NIH Public Access Policy, as well as make it impossible for other federal agencies to put similar policies into place. The legislation is HR6845: “Fair Copyright in Research Works Act” (http://judiciary.house.gov/
HR6845 is designed to do the following:
1. Amend current copyright law (Title 17).
2. 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 meet either of two conditions:
a. They are funded in part by sources other than a U.S. agency, or
b. The results from "meaningful added value" to the work from an entity that is not party to the agreement.
3. Prohibit U.S. federal agencies being able to obtain a license to publicly distribute, perform, or display such work by -- for example -- putting it on the Internet.
4. Makes broad policy by stifling public access to a wide range of federally funded works, and effectively overturns the crucially important current NIH Public Access Policy.
5. Because it is so broadly framed, the proposed bill would require an overhaul of well-established procurement rules in effect for all federal agencies, and could disrupt day-to-day procurement practices across the federal government, including in critical areas such as research to support national defense and homeland security.
6. In particular, the bill would repeal the longstanding "federal purpose" doctrine, under which all federal agencies that fund the creation of a copyrighted work must reserve a "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.
7. The bill is a blunt instrument that uses extremely broad language to override existing procurement law, and as such has serious implications for the entire U.S. federal government far beyond articles resulting from research funding.
8. 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. This proposed bill would prohibit the deposit of these articles, and as a result, researchers, physicians, health care professionals, families and individuals will find it much harder to get access to this critical health-related information.
Thursday, September 18, 2008
action alert: tell cornyn you oppose hr6845
The following action alert comes from Jennifer McLennan with The Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC).
Sen. John Cornyn of Texas serves on the Judiciary Committee, so it is especially important for concerned Texans to contact him. His D.C. office can be reached at (202) 224-2934. A simple 30-second phone call telling the his office that you oppose HR6845 will do the trick.