Notes on the Research Works Act

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The bill itself

  • 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."


  • Elsevier gave money directly to Issa and Maloney. For the 2012 campaign cycle, Elsevier gave two campaign contributions to Issa and 12 to Maloney. Out of 31 contributions Elsevier made to House members for this cycle, 14 or 45% went to Issa and Maloney.

Publisher opposition

  • 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 the bill.
  • This section tries to track the publishers who have publicly opposed the bill.

AAP members who reject the RWA and publicly disavow the AAP position on RWA

Chronological by announcement date:

  1. MIT Press. See the January 11, 2012, announcement by Ellen Faran, Director of MIT Press.
  2. ITHAKA. See the January 12, 2012, announcement.
  3. Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR). See the January 12, 2012, announcement.
  4. Penn State University Press. See the January 12, 2012, announcement by Patrick Alexander, Director of the Penn State University Press.
  5. Rockefeller University Press. See the January 13, 2012, announcement by Mike Rossner, Executive Director of Rockefeller University Press.
  6. University of California Press. See the January 13, 2012, announcement by Alison Mudditt, Director of the University of California Press.
  7. Nature Publishing Group and Digital Science. See the January 18, 2012, joint announcement by Steven Inchcoombe, Managing Director for NPG, and Timo Hannay, Managing Director for Digital Science. (Digital Science is a sister company of NPG.)
  8. Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). See the January 18, 2012,announcement by Ginger Pinholster, Director of the AAAS Office of Public Programs, and Alan Leshner, AAAS Chief Executive Officer.

AAP members who apparently reject the RWA, but whose positions require confirmation

  1. 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.
  2. 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 reject the RWA but are not members of AAP

  1. International Society for Computational Biology. See the January 11, 2012, announcement by B.J. Morrison McKay, ISCB Executive Officer.
  2. 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.
  3. Society for Cultural Anthropology. See the January 18, 2012, announcement adopted unanimously by the SCA Executive Board.
  4. BioMed Central. See the January 20, 2012, announcement. (Note that Springer, BMC's parent company, supports the RWA.)

Action against the RWA