Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Letter from nine organizations in support of the NIH policy

Nine library, publishing, and public-interest organizations have released their September 5 letter to the House Judiciary Committee, supporting the NIH policy and opposing the Conyers bill.  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.

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 achieves several notable goals: First, it ensures broad public access to the results of NIH's publicly funded research, allowing scientists and researchers throughout the country – indeed the world – to collaborate and engage in cutting-edge research. Such availability acts as a “leveler,” expanding the potential user base, allowing for greater sharing of information and the spurring of medical advances and innovations.

Second, the Policy ensures that the U.S. government has a long-term permanent archive of the research results that we have collectively funded....Finally, it provides welcome accountability and transparency to the government, and assists the NIH in better managing our investments in its research portfolio....

At the direction of Congress, the NIH Public Access Policy was recently revised to require that NIH grantees deposit their manuscripts in lieu of doing so voluntarily. Congress’ leadership on this Policy has been validated. Since the Policy became mandatory in early April, the deposit rate has increased from 10% to almost 60%. This change ensures that the more than 80,000 articles resulting from NIH funding each year will, for the first time, be available to any researcher, physician, faculty member, student or member of the public who wants access.

Some in Washington have expressed concerns about the rights of authors under the NIH Public Access Policy. As library organizations 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....

The letter is signed by the American Association of Law Libraries, American Library Association, the Association of College and Research Libraries, the Association of Research Libraries, the Greater Western Library Alliance, Public Knowledge, Public Library of Science, SPARC (Scholarly Publishing & Academic Resources Coalition), and the Special Libraries Association.

PS:  Note that the Judiciary Committee has suspended action on the Conyers bill until at least 2009.