The Executive Branch Must Stop Suppressing Science – Scientific American Blog Network

“For much of my time in public service, there were some things government officials did just because they were the right things to do—and that included respecting the research done by government scientists. That respect has faded over recent presidencies. Sharpie-gate may have been its death knell. …

Earlier this year, General Robert Neller, then commandant of the Marine Corps, wrote to the Secretary of the Navy about the damage from storms: “The combat readiness of II Marine Expeditionary Force—1/3 the combat power of the Marine Corps—is degraded and will continue to degrade,” he asserted. We have to be better prepared for the impacts of climate change. But that goal will be impossible if political officials act in bad faith by distorting or suppressing government research on climate science….

 

To help rebuild ethics, integrity and trust in government—including trust in its research and data—I joined a nonpartisan task force of former government officials concerned about the executive branch’s growing disregard for norms and unwritten rules that had formerly kept its power in check. Recently,our group, the National Task Force on Rule of Law & Democracy—a project of the Brennan Center for Justice—published a report proposing legislation that would effectively respond to the numerous instances we catalogued of federal officials censoring scientific information, changing scientific findings to suit political agendas and retaliating against government scientists because their research was politically inconvenient….”

PACER Court Records ‘Can Never Be Free,’ Judge Says (1)

“Making the judiciary’s electronic filings free to the public without an alternative funding source likely would result in steep court fee increases for litigants and hinder access to justice due to cost, a federal judge told a congressional panel Sept. 26.

Judge Audrey Fleissig of the U.S. District court for the Eastern District of Missouri also said in testimony for the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Courts, IP, and the internet that shifting costs away from users without another funding plan would burden courts with new costs.

“Our case management and public access systems can never be free because they require over $100 million per year just to operate,” Fleissig said. “That money must come from somewhere.” …”

Renew the Open Textbook Pilot Grant Program – SPARC

“The Open Textbook Pilot is a federal grant program that supports projects at institutions of higher educations that create or expand the use of open textbooks to achieve savings for students. First funded by Congress in the bipartisan fiscal year 2018 budget bill then renewed for a second year, the program has awarded $10 million in grants through the U.S. Department of Education.

SPARC and U.S. PIRG co-lead a national campaign to secure this first-ever federal funding, and we are now working to renew and strengthen the funding for a third year….

SPARC is working to renew and strengthen the Open Textbook Pilot funding in the FY20 budget. We are calling on Congress to increase the amount of funding, increase the number of grants available, and require the Department of Education to run a new competition.

While the timeline of the Fiscal Year 2020 appropriations process is still unclear, the House and the Senate have taken steps toward renewing the Open Textbook Pilot. In June 2019, the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 2740 which includes a $5 million appropriation. On September 18, 2019, the Senate released bill language and the accompanying report for the relevant budget bill, which includes a $6 million appropriation—a $1 million increase—along with instructions for the Department of Education to run a new competition….”

It’s Time to Stop Copyright’s Violation of the U. S. Constitution – Slaw

“The jurisdiction in which it makes the most sense to reform copyright law so that it supports, rather than deters, access to research and scholarship is the United States. After all, the country’s Constitution empowers Congress “To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries.” The only other thing the Constitution seeks to “promote” is the country’s “lasting Welfare.”

Yet U.S. copyright law today violates this constitutional imperative. The evidence that copyright law is not promoting the progress of science comes from the federal government, academic community, legal profession, and publishing industry. It has been mounting over the last two decades, and while I plan to spend the coming year building a case for legal reform, let me sketch out some of the indicators of the law’s misalignment with the Constitution….”

The Netherlands leads way with implementation of the new educational exception – International Communia Association

“Just one month after the new Copyright in the Digital Single Market Directive went into force, the Dutch government has shared their proposal for its implementation, through an amendment of their existing copyright law. The proposal is currently in a public consultation phase.

We would like to provide here an overview of the Dutch proposal to implement locally the new EU educational exception (article 5 in the final version of the Directive). This is the beginning of our effort to track how countries across Europe will implement, over the coming two years, this mandatory exception to copyright for educational purposes….”

Open science included in new Serbian law | EIFL

“The Serbian government has passed a new law on science and research that recognizes open science as a fundamental principle of science and research.

The new Law on Science and Research, passed on 8 July 2019, confirms Serbia’s commitment to open science. It comes just a year after the Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development (MESTD), the main national funder of research in Serbia, adopted a national open science policy, the Platform for Open Science, mandating open science to all publicly funded research….”

Open science in the newly adopted Law on Science and Research in Serbia – OpenAIRE Blog

Open Science is an internationally and universally accepted term that includes open (free for the end-users) access to scientific and educational literature, open research, open innovation, open source software, etc. In all documents regulating science in the European Union (and beyond), open access is mandatory, as the wider community has the right of access to the results of scientific research funded from public sources, i.e. by the money of taxpayers. The Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Development (MESTD) has unambiguously shown determination in the previous period to follow the principles of open science. This is, above all, reflected in the Open Science Platform (adopted in July 2018, English translation), and in several articles in the recently adopted new Law on Science and Research.

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What happens when books enter the public domain? Testing copyright’s underuse hypothesis across Australia, New Zealand, the United States and Canada by Rebecca Giblin :: SSRN

Abstract:  The United States (‘US’) extended most copyright terms by 20 years in 1998, and has since exported that extension via ‘free trade’ agreements to countries including Australia and Canada. A key justification for the longer term was the claim that exclusive rights are necessary to encourage publishers to invest in making older works available — and that, unless such rights were granted, they would go underused. This study empirically tests this ‘underuse hypothesis’ by investigating the relative availability of ebooks to public libraries across Australia, New Zealand, the US and Canada. We find that books are actually less available where they are under copyright than where they are in the public domain, and that commercial publishers seem undeterred from investing in works even where others are competing to supply the same titles. We also find that exclusive rights do not appear to trigger investment in works that have low commercial demand, with books from 59% of the ‘culturally valuable’ authors we sampled unavailable in any jurisdiction, regardless of copyright status. This provides new evidence of how even the shortest copyright terms can outlast works’ commercial value, even where cultural value remains. Further, we find that works are priced much higher where they are under copyright than where they in the public domain, and these differences typically far exceed what would be paid to authors or their heirs. Thus, one effect of extending copyrights from life + 50 to life + 70 is that libraries are obliged to pay higher prices in exchange for worse access.

This is the first published study to test the underuse hypothesis outside the US, and the first to analyse comparative availability of identical works across jurisdictions where their copyright status differs. It adds to the evidence that the underuse hypothesis is not borne out by real world practice. Nonetheless, countries are still being obliged to enact extended terms as a cost of trade access. We argue that such nations should explore alternative ways of dividing up those rights to better achieve copyright’s fundamental aims of rewarding authors and promoting widespread access to knowledge and culture.

Countries with longer copyright terms have access to fewer books (pay attention, Canada!) / Boing Boing

Rebecca Giblin (previously) writes, “We’ve just dropped a new study we’ve been working on for a year. You know how it keeps being claimed that we need longer copyrights because nobody will invest in making works available if they’re in the public domain? Heald and some others have done some great work debunking that in the US context, but now we’ve finally tested this hypothesis in other countries by looking at the relative availability of ebooks to libraries. It’s also the first time anyone has been able to compare availability of identical works (by significant authors) across jurisdictions. The books we sampled were all in the public domain in Canada and NZ, all under copyright in Australia, and a mix in the US (courtesy of its historical renewal system).”

“So what’d we find? That Canada and NZ (public domain) have access to more books and at cheaper prices than Australia (copyright) and the US (mixed). Also that publishers don’t seem to have any problem competing with each other on the same popular titles. And, sadly but not surprisingly: 59% of our sampled ‘culturally significant’ authors had no books available to libraries in any country regardless of copyright status. That’s because even the shortest terms wildly outlast most books’ commercial life (even where they still have cultural value). …”

White House Releases Draft Federal Data Strategy Action Plan – SPARC

Yesterday, the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) released their long-awaited draft Federal Data Strategy Action Plan which outlines the Administration’s concrete action plan for implementing the President’s Management Agenda priority to leverage data as a National Strategic Asset. It also serves as a blueprint for the government’s implementation of the Foundations for Evidence-Based Policymaking/Open Government Act, which was signed into law in January.

Along with the draft action plan, OMB released final versions of the principles and practices it expects agencies to follow in gathering, using, protecting, and engaging with data.

The draft action plan, which is open for public comment until July 5th, lays out actions considered fundamental for the government to undertake during the first year in order to execute the full breadth of the strategy over time. It includes concrete deliverables for each individual federal agency, as well as government-wide actions facilitated by collaborative agency work.

The plan articulates six actions for all federal agencies to individually complete once the action plan is finalized in August:

  1. Improve data resources for artificial intelligence research and development by February 2020
  2. Constitute a diverse data governance body by September 2019
  3. Assess data and related infrastructure maturity by May 2020
  4. Identify opportunities to increase staff data skills by May 2020
  5. Identify data needed to answer key agency questions by August 2020
  6. Identify priority datasets for agency open data plans by August 2020…”