Monopoly Rights to Taxpayer Funded Research?

A Science and Tech Policy PhD candidate at GMU (Ryan Zelnio) posted an interesting article to facebook highlighting a bill that would end open-access to peer reviewed research coming out of NIH programs. (I happen to live pretty close to NIH in suburban Maryland and many of my neighbors work over there; often wicked smart people.

According to the article posted by Dave Bruggeman the interest group pushing this bill is the academic journal publishers (Universities) who want to end the free distribution that the NIH rule dictate. If the journals have the rights (usually granted by the authors) and the NIH free access rule is ended, then customers have no choice but to subscribe to the publishing journals or buy the articles on a case by case basis.

This sounds like monopoly rights for publicly funded knowledge. Please contact representative John Conyers (MI) and ask him to stop pushing this bill. His co-sponsors on the bill appear to be Steve Cohen of TN, Trent Franks of AZ, Darrell Issa (CA), and Robert Wexler of FL. (BTW, should anyone representing Michigan be spending their time on this? Dereliction of duty?)

I know Ryan from a class on Science and Technology Policy with David Hart. I now run into him every few months and chat about our research. My relationship with him highlights the benefits that a campus offers in terms of interesting people working on a broad range of issues. While I do not focus on hard core science and tech policy issues, Ryan does and his insights, experience, and information provide new frameworks and concepts to use and compare when completing my work. The campus ec0-system is rich and well worth embedding in.

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5 responses to “Monopoly Rights to Taxpayer Funded Research?

  1. One small correction to this. The publishers are not affiliated with universities. In fact, universities are very much in favor of open-access and have been some of the leaders in backing the rights to open access. The reason is publishers, like Elsevier, make universities pay exorbitant rates to have online access to their journals.

    At the heart of this argument IMHO is the fact that we tax payers have already paid for the research and therefor should have access to the results of our investment. NIH has been the only agency to take this stand, due in no small reasoning to the fact that the research put out by NIH is a public good that SAVES LIVES.

    To tie this a bit into your own blog, there are a number of entrepreneurial movements afoot to solve the coasian problem of journals wanting to get paid for their editorial efforts and researchers wanting to get their work out to the public. One of the most widely praised efforts is Public Library of Science. Another effort which sprang out of the open source community and is based out of MIT is the Science Commons. You can read their wiki articles for more information on these, and other movements.

  2. Ryan,

    thanks for the comments. What about MIT Press, Oxford, and other names that seem to be university associated?

    Thanks for the names of some of the open source groups trying to free information for entrepreneurs (commercial, social, scientific, and policy) to make use of.

  3. Thanks for posting this, it’s important. The blogosphere must swarm this issue!

  4. Touche, not all publishers are affiliated with universities though some have a loose affiliation :)

    That being said, I believe MIT Press offers access for free to its journals. I just checked and had full access to all articles (though I am on a .edu network).

    The open access community has been having an impact on the “old guard”. Both Science and Nature have been responsive and are now making articles free after a limited time (usually 6-12 months).

  5. Dear Friends,

    If the leaders are backing the rights to open access, and althogh there is an issue from the tax payers, it is neccessary to consider globalization for good citizenship. and knowledge share that supports e-learning process for life.

    Freedom to information is a human right!

    The blogsphere members have the right to the blog share.

    Grace.

    Kenya.

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