Notes on the Research Works Act
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This page is part of the Harvard Open Access Project.
The bill itself
- The Research Works Act (HR 3699) would repeal the OA policy at the NIH and block similar policies at other federal agencies.
- The main section (Section 2) is brief: "No Federal agency may adopt, implement, maintain, continue, or otherwise engage in any policy, program, or other activity that -- (1) causes, permits, or authorizes network dissemination of any private-sector research work without the prior consent of the publisher of such work; or (2) requires that any actual or prospective author, or the employer of such an actual or prospective author, assent to network dissemination of a private-sector research work."
- The RWA was introduced in the House of Representatives by Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) on December 16, 2011, and referred to the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.
- According to MapLight (Money and Politics Light), Elsevier has given two campaign contributions to Issa and 12 to Maloney for the 2012 campaign cycle. Out of 31 contributions Elsevier has made to House members for this cycle, 14 or 45% have gone to Issa and Maloney.
- According to OpenSecrets, Elsevier is the second-to-the-top contributor to Maloney for the 2012 campaign cycle.
- The Association of American Publishers (AAP) endorsed the RWA, and lobbies for it in the name of its members. However, the AAP did not consult its members before endorsing the bill, and we don't know how many AAP members actually support it.
- This section tries to track the publishers who have publicly opposed the bill.
- AAP members who oppose the RWA (chronological by announcement date):
- MIT Press. See the January 11, 2012, announcement from Ellen Faran, Director of MIT Press.
- ITHAKA. See the January 12, 2012, announcement.
- Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR). See the January 12, 2012, announcement.
- Penn State University Press. See the January 12, 2012, announcement from Patrick Alexander, Director of the Penn State University Press.
- Rockefeller University Press. See the January 13, 2012, announcement from Mike Rossner, Executive Director of Rockefeller University Press.
- University of California Press. See the January 13, 2012, announcement from Alison Mudditt, Director of the University of California Press.
- Nature Publishing Group and Digital Science. See the January 18, 2012, joint announcement from Steven Inchcoombe, Managing Director for NPG, and Timo Hannay, Managing Director for Digital Science. (Digital Science is a sister company of NPG.)
- Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). See the January 18, 2012, announcement from Ginger Pinholster, Director of the AAAS Office of Public Programs, and Alan Leshner, AAAS Chief Executive Officer.
- Modern Language Association. See the January 25, 2012, announcement from Michael Bérubé, President of the MLA.
- American Institute of Physics. See the AIP's announcement (undated but released on January 31, 2012).
- AAP members who apparently oppose the RWA, but whose positions require confirmation
- University of Chicago Press. In a January 17, 2012, comment on Richard Poynder's blog, Arno Bosse reports that the U of Chicago Press told him that it does not support RWA. But Bosse doesn't speak for the press and doesn't quote a statement from the press.
- Cambridge University Press. A week after CUP told Richard Poynder that "it is too early for us to make any public statements" on RWA, Poynder was allowed (January 17, 2012) to share this statement from Peter Davison, CUP's Director of Corporate Affairs: "Cambridge University Press has submitted testimony to the United States Office of Science and Technology in response to the Request for Information (2011-28623) on subjects related to HR 3699. Our testimony is not identical to the position adopted by the Association of American Publishers. In particular, we write: ‘We support all sustainable access models that ensure the permanence and integrity of the scholarly record... The Bill as proposed could undermine the underlying freedoms expected by and of scholarly authors....’ "
- Publishers who oppose the RWA but are not members of AAP
- International Society for Computational Biology. See the January 11, 2012, announcement from B.J. Morrison McKay, ISCB Executive Officer.
- American Physical Society. See the January 13, 2012, announcement in a letter to the NY Times by Gene Sprouse and Joseph Serene, the editor in chief and treasurer-publisher of the American Physical Society.
- Society for Cultural Anthropology. See the January 18, 2012, announcement adopted unanimously by the SCA Executive Board.
- BioMed Central. See the January 20, 2012, announcement. (Note that Springer, BMC's parent company, supports the RWA.)
- Public Library of Science. See the January 24, 2012, announcement it issued jointly with nine other US organizations.
- American Society of Plant Biologists. See the January 30, 2012, announcement from Crispin Taylor, Executive Director of the ASPB.
Action against the RWA
- See the petition against the RWA at We The People, the White House petition site. Online since January 23, 2012. If the petition gathers 25k signatures, the Obama administration will review it and issue an official response.