Open Access under threat for the NIH?

Ars Technica reports on the passage of HR6845 into the House of Representatives. Titled “Fair Copyright in Research Works Act”, this bill could well damage the efforts of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the US make publicly funded research work open access.

The only people who “benefit” from this in the short term are the publishing companies who appear to be heading down the MPAA/RIAA route of trying to make increasingly short term profits. The report carries the figure of the NIH spending $100 million of public money on authors to get their work published for what are private companies. So the public purse pays twice – once for the research and then for publishing.

Open Access benefits the wider community since it allows for a transparency in research and data meaning that results can quickly be checked and verified and that the neologism “knowledge transfer” can take place more easily.

This is clearly a knee jerk reaction to the way that knowledge and its ease of transfer takes place. Publishers should be looking at changing their business models to adapt rather than trying to hold on to something that is slowly dying. Especially if the research and publication costs are being borne by the public.

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