Rep John Conyers is siding with publishers of scientific journals, and has reintroduced legislation to embargo publicly-financed research indefinitely if the publishers want to assert their copyrights in that manner. Currently, research funded by the NIH must become available to the public a year after it is published, but apparently the publishers and their lobbyists think they will lose money if the research is publicly available one year after publication. How can this be? Scientific research moves pretty quickly, and few professionals or institutions could afford to forgo subscriptions and wait for a whole a year to find out what's happening in their field now.
February 3, 2009. Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) and others introduced HR 801 [LOC | WW], the "Fair Copyright in Research Works Act", a bill to protect the copyright interests and incentives of authors and publishers of research works when the government provides funding for that research.
Rep. Conyers introduced a substantially identical bill late in the 110th Congress, HR 6845 [LOC | WW], also titled the "Fair Copyright in Research Works Act".
Rep. Conyers is the Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee (HJC). The original cosponsors of the bill are Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), Rep. Rob Wexler (D-FL), Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ), and Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN). All are members of the HJC.
This bill would add a new subsection 201(f) to 17 U.S.C. § 201, which pertains to ownership of copyright.
The bill provides that "No Federal agency may, in connection with a funding agreement ... impose or cause the imposition of any term or condition that ... requires the transfer or license to or for a Federal agency of" certain exclusive rights of copyright enumerated in 17 U.S.C. § 106.
The introduction of this bill follows adoption of a policy by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) titled "Public Access Policy". An appropriations bill mandated this policy.
The NIH provides research funding. It now ties that funding to loss exclusive rights of copyright. It provides public access to peer reviewed NIH funded articles in a NIH internet accessible database. See, NIH release of January 2008.
An NIH spokesman told TLJ on February 6, 2009, that the "NIH's Public Access Policy is in place and has remained in effect from its start date in April 2008".