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February 17, 2009

Open Access: Half step forward, big possible step back

Boston University has decided to set up an open access archive for scholarly work produced there. Yay. This seems to stop short from mandating that academics there are required to put a copy of their published work into the archive, but it’s a good step.

On the other hand, the Open Access Blog reports:

Congressional Representative John Conyers (D-MI) has re-introduced a bill (HR801) that essentially would negate the NIH policy concerning depositing research in OA repositories.

Here are the first three points in a letter posted by Jennifer McLennan:

H.R. 801 is designed to amend current copyright law and create a new category of copyrighted works (Section 201, Title 17). In effect, it would:

1. Prohibit all U.S. federal agencies from conditioning funding agreements to require that works resulting from federal support be made publicly available if those works are either: a) funded in part by sources other than a U.S. agency, or b) the result of “meaningful added value” to the work from an entity that is not party to the agreement.

2. Prohibit U.S. agencies from obtaining a license to publicly distribute, perform, or display such work by, for example, placing it on the Internet.

3. Stifle access to a broad range of federally funded works, overturning the crucially important NIH Public Access Policy and preventing other agencies from implementing similar policies.

Here’s a draft letter opposing it.

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