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."


  • Issa and Maloney withdrew their support for the bill in a public statement on February 27, 2012.
    • Excerpt: "As the costs of publishing continue to be driven down by new technology, we will continue to see a growth in open access publishers. This new and innovative model appears to be the wave of the future. The transition must be collaborative, and must respect copyright law and the principles of open access. The American people deserve to have access to research for which they have paid. This conversation needs to continue and we have come to the conclusion that the Research Works Act has exhausted the useful role it can play in the debate....[W]e will not be taking legislative action on HR 3699, the Research Works Act...."
  • 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.

Publisher opposition

  • This section tries to track the publishers who have publicly opposed the bill.
  • AAP members who apparently oppose the RWA, but whose positions require confirmation
    1. University of Chicago Press. In a comment on Richard Poynder's blog (January 17, 2012), 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....’ "
    3. American Anthropological Association. On February 3, 2012, the AAA Executive Committee issued a statement opposing "any Congressional legislation which, if it were enacted, imposes a blanket prohibition against open access publishing policies by all federal agencies." On the one hand, this description taken literally does not describe the RWA. On the other, this interpretation of the RWA is very common and might have been held by the AAA Executive Committee.

Other opposition

Limited to major statements.

  • Thirty higher-education, library, and public-interest organizations: American Association of University Professors, American Historical Association, American Library Association, Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, Californians Aware, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, Community Research, Cost of Government Center, Defending Dissent Foundation, Demand Progress, Doctor Patient Medical Association, Essential Information, Humanist Society of New Mexico,, Mine Safety and Health News, National Coalition Against Censorship, National Coalition for History, OMB Watch,, Progressive Librarians Guild, Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, Rutherford Institute, Sage Information Services, Society of American Archivists, Society of Professional Journalists, Special Libraries Association, Tully Center for Free Speech at Syracuse University, Utah Foundation for Open Government, Washington Coalition for Open Government, and the William A. Wise Law Library at the University of Colorado Law School. See their joint open letter to Congress, February 9, 2012.
  • The eleven provosts of the universities in the Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC): University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Indiana University, University of Iowa, University of Michigan, Michigan State University, University of Minnesota, University of Nebraska at Lincoln, Ohio State University, Pennsylvania State University, Purdue University, and the University of Wisconsin at Madison. See their joint statement, February 23, 2012.
  • Ninety universities, patient-advocacy organizations, and other non-profits (a few of which also signed earlier letters, above): Alzheimer's Association, American Association of State Colleges and Universities, American Brain Tumor Association, American Cancer Society Cancer, Action Network, American Society for Cell Biology, Arizona State University, Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum, Association of Independent Research Institutes, Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, Association of Research Libraries, Auburn University, Clemson University, Colon Cancer Alliance, Colorado Ovarian Cancer Alliance, Columbia University, Cornell University, Dakota State University, Elizabeth Ann Williamson Foundation, Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered, Fight Collateral Cancer, Florida State University, Georgia State University, Harvard University, HealthHIV, Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy Association, Indiana University, Johns Hopkins University, LIVESTRONG, Lymphoma Research Foundation, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Michigan State University, Michigan Technological University, Minnesota Ovarian Cancer Alliance, National Multiple Sclerosis Society, National Patient Advocate Foundation, North Carolina State University, Northern Illinois University, Ohio State University, Oregon State University, Ovarian Cancer Advocacy Alliance, Ovarian Cancer National Alliance, Ovarian Cancer Together, Pancreatic Cancer Action Network, Parkinson’s Action Network, Penn State University, Portland State University, Purdue University, Rutgers University, South Dakota School of Mines and Technology, South Dakota State University, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, Stanford University, State University of New York at Albany, State University of New York at Buffalo, State University of New York at Stony Brook, State University of New York Council of Library Directors, Susan G. Komen for the Cure Advocacy Alliance, University of Arkansas, University of California System, University of Central Florida, University of Cincinnati, University of Colorado - Boulder, University of Connecticut, University of Illinois, University of Iowa, University of Kansas, University of Kentucky, University of Louisville, University of Maryland, University of Massachusetts Amherst, University of Michigan, University of Minnesota, University of Minnesota Senate Library Committee, University of Nebraska, University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill, University of North Carolina - Greensboro, University of Oregon, University of Pennsylvania, University of Pittsburgh, University of South Dakota, University of Utah, University of Virginia, University of Washington, University of Wisconsin - Madison, Vanderbilt University, Washington University - St. Louis, Wayne State University, Y-ME National Breast Cancer Organization, and You'll Never Walk Alone. See their joint letter to Congress, February 24, 2012.
  • Newsday. See its editorial, February 24, 2012. Notable in part because Newsday is the first mainstream news source to oppose RWA, and because it serves much of the NY 14th District, represented by RWA co-sponsor Carolyn Maloney.

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.