Fair Copyright in Research Works Act: Ten Associations and Advocacy Groups Send Letter to Judiciary Committee Members Opposing Act

Ten associations and advocacy groups, including AALL, ACRL, ALA, ARL, and GWLA, have sent a letter to House Judiciary Committee members opposing the Fair Copyright in Research Works Act (H.R. 801).

Here's an excerpt:

The U.S. government funds research with the expectation that new ideas and discoveries from the research will propel science, stimulate the economy, and improve the lives and welfare of Americans. Public support for science is enhanced when the public directly sees the benefits from our nation's investment in scientific research. Yet H.R. 801 would reverse the only U.S. policy for public access to research, at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and make it impossible for other agencies to enact similar policies.

Scientific research is advanced by broad dissemination of knowledge, and the subsequent building upon the work of others. To this end, the NIH Public Access Policy ensures that the results of our nation's $29 billion annual investment in research reach the broadest possible audience. The Policy requires that, in exchange for receiving federal research dollars, grantees deposit the final electronic manuscript of their peer-reviewed research results into PubMed Central, NIH’s digital archive, to be made publicly available within 12 months—and was specifically implemented in full compliance with current U.S. copyright law.

The NIH Policy achieves several notable goals: First, it ensures broad public access to the results of NIH's funded research, allowing scientists and researchers to collaborate and engage in cutting-edge research. Such access allows for greater sharing of information, speeding discovery, medical advances, and innovations.

Second, the NIH Policy ensures that the U.S. government has a permanent archive of these critical, publicly funded biomedical research results, ensuring that results can be built upon by not only this generation, but also future generations, of researchers.

Finally, the Policy creates a welcome degree of accountability and transparency, which enable us to better manage our collective investments in the NIH research portfolio and ensure the maximum possible benefits to the public in return.

At the direction of Congress, the NIH Public Access Policy, in place as a voluntary measure since 2005, was recently strengthened to a mandatory policy. As a result, the rate of eligible manuscripts being deposited for public accessibility quickly increased from 19% to 60%. This requirement proved crucial to ensuring that the more than 80,000 articles resulting from NIH funding each year are, for the first time, available to any researcher, physician, faculty member, student, or member of the public who wants them.

H.R.801 presupposes that the NIH Public Access Policy undermines the rights of the author and conflicts with U.S. copyright law. As library organizations and allies we fully respect copyright law and the protection it affords content creators, content owners, and content users. NIH-funded research is copyrightable and copyright belongs to the author. The NIH Policy requires only the grant of a non-exclusive license to NIH, fully consistent with federal policies such as Circular A- 110 and Circular A-102. This policy leaves the author free to transfer some or all of the exclusive rights under copyright to a journal publisher or to assign these anywhere they so choose. Attached please find an issue brief detailing how the NIH Public Access Policy does not affect copyright law [see the letter for the brief].

The NIH Public Access Policy advances science, improves access by the public to federally funded research, provides for effective archiving strategies for these resources, and ensures accountability of our federal investment. Given the proven success of the revised NIH Public Access Policy and the promise of public access to federally funded research, we firmly oppose H.R.801 and ask that you do the same. Thank you for considering the stake and position of the key constituencies in this discussion.

Read more about it at "Conyers Introduces H.R. 801, "The Fair Copyright in Research Works Act."

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