Two new Open Access bills generating buzz

A bill not unlike the NIH Public Access policy has been introduced in the United States Congress, laying a framework for increased access to science and technology research conducted with publicly-funded support.

From Library Journal:

The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR) was introduced on February 14 in both the Senate and the House of Representatives. If passed, FASTR would require government agencies with annual extramural research expenditures of more than $100 million make electronic manuscripts of peer-reviewed journal articles based on their research freely available on the Internet within six months of publication in a peer-reviewed journal.

Major library advocacy organizations such as the ALA, ACRL, and SPARC (among others) have come out in support of the FASTR Act.

Commercial publishers’ response to the bill has, predictably, been cold. The American Association of Publishers (AAP) is arguing that the policy would be wasteful of taxpayers money, and that it would not serve the need of all scientific disciplines.

A day later, a more general bill that would mandate the creation of Open Access policies at public universities in Illinois was introduced to the Illinois State Legislature. Possible positive outcomes of this bill include:

  • Free online access to all research published at public universities and colleges in Illinois
  • Increased support for Open Access institutional repositories, which will inevitably become the infrastructure that supports the sharing and preservation of research created in Illinois
  • More awareness of, and support for, digital preservation at the university level

Areas for concern include:

  • The granting of “worldwide copyright license granted by the author to the public.” This provision will likely have faculty up in arms, as the bill calls for what is essentially a CC-BY license to be applied to all work produced by faculty–allowing others to use and share their work in nearly any way they see fit, even for commercial gain.
  • Blanket applicability to all disciplines even though there is more resistance to OA from arts and humanities scholars, who do not benefit from the practice in the same way that science researchers do.

Hopefully, at the very least these bills will both engender some much-needed debate in Congress about the mission of universities as creators of knowledge for the public good rather than profit.

Author- Stacy Konkiel

Stacy Konkiel is the Science Data Management Librarian for the IU Libraries--Bloomington. Learn more about data management at http://libraries.iub.edu/data.