Support Open Access: Contact House Judiciary Committee Members to Save the NIH Public Access Policy

As indicated in recent postings ("Fair Copyright in Research Works Act: Ten Associations and Advocacy Groups Send Letter to Judiciary Committee Members Opposing Act" and "Urgent Call to Action: Conyers Bill Opposing NIH Open Access Policy May Soon Come to House Vote"), the fight over the Fair Copyright in Research Works Act (H.R. 801) is heating up.

If you want to oppose the bill and support the NIH Public Access policy and open access, you should contact members of the House Judiciary Committee and your Representative immediately by letter, e-mail, fax, or phone. If a Judiciary Committee member is in your district, your opposition will have considerably more impact. If you are uncertain, about who your House member is, you can use the The Hill's search form to find out. The "Contact" tab for the House member's The Hill record, includes a "Contact [Congressional representative] via Web Form" function that can be used to send e-mail messages.

Below is a list of Judiciary Committee members and a draft letter from the Alliance for Taxpayer Access’ call to action.

Draft letter text:

Dear Representative;

On behalf of [your organization], I strongly urge you to oppose H.R. 801, “the Fair Copyright in Research Works Act,” introduced to the House Judiciary Committee on February 3, 2009. This bill would amend the U.S. Copyright Code, prohibiting federal agencies from requiring as a condition of funding agreements public access to the products of the research they fund. This will significantly inhibit our ability to advance scientific discovery and to stimulate innovation in all scientific disciplines.

Most critically, H.R. 801 would reverse the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Public Access Policy, prohibit American taxpayers from accessing the results of the crucial biomedical research funded by their taxpayer dollars, and stifle critical advancements in life-saving research and scientific discovery.

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 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.

H.R. 801 affects not only the results of biomedical research produced by the NIH, but also scientific research coming from all other federal agencies. Access to critical information on energy, the environment, climate change, and hundreds of other areas that directly impact the lives and well being of the public would be unfairly limited by this proposed legislation.

[Why you support taxpayer access and the NIH policy].

The NIH and other agencies must be allowed to ensure timely, public access to the results of research funded with taxpayer dollars. Please oppose H.R.801.

Postscript: ALA has issued a call to action about the Fair Copyright in Research Works Act (H.R. 801). The alert includes a link to a Web form that will allow you to e-mail a House Judiciary Committee Member from your district about the bill (will not work if your Representative does not serve on the Judiciary Committee).

The Alliance for Taxpayer Access has a Web form (with letter text) that you can use to e-mail your Congressional representatives.

The bill has been referred to the Subcommittee on Courts and Competition Policy.