Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

The Conyers bill is back

Yesterday Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) re-introduced the Fair Copyright in Research Works Act.  This year it's H.R. 801 (last year it was H.R. 6845), and co-sponsored by Steve Cohen (D-TN), Trent Franks (R-AZ), Darrell Issa (R-CA), and Robert Wexler (D-FL).  The language has not changed. 

The Fair Copyright Act is to fair copyright what the Patriot Act was to patriotism.  It would repeal the OA policy at the NIH and prevent similar OA policies at any federal agency.  The bill has been referred to the House Judiciary Committee, where Conyers is Chairman, and where he has consolidated his power since last year by abolishing the Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet, and Intellectual Property.  The Judiciary Committee does not specialize in science, science policy, or science funding, but copyright. 

The premise of the bill, urged by the publishing lobby, is that the NIH policy somehow violates copyright law.  The premise is false and cynical.  If the NIH policy violated copyrights, or permitted the violation of copyrights, publishers wouldn't have to back this bill to amend US copyright law.  Instead, they'd be in court where they'd already have a remedy.  For a detailed analysis of the bill and point by point rebuttal to the publishing lobby's rhetoric, see my article from October 2008.

I'll have more soon on ways to mobilize in opposition to the bill and support the NIH and the principle of public access to publicly-funded research.  Meantime, if you're a US citizen and your representative is a member of the Judiciary Committee, it's not to early to fire off an email/fax/letter/phone call to your representative opposing the bill and defending the NIH policy.  You can find ammo here: