Harvard response to the White House RFI on OA publications (January 2012)

The following letter is Harvard University’s response to a request for information by the White House Office for Science and Technology Policy concerning public access to research….”

CapitolHillCoffeeHouse: “Open Access” or Covert Propaganda? by Alan Caruba – Oct 15, 06

“This innocent sounding bill [FRPAA] might better be called ‘The Advancement of Junk Science Act of 2006.’

All the government-funded studies, whether having merit or redolent with hidden agendas, would be available to become a platform by which various social agendas would be advanced. 

Nothing truly impedes anyone from access to published research studies; it’s available for those who want to read it.  ‘Open access’, however, is an invitation for more clueless journalism and covert advocacy….

This bill literally forces publishers of medical, scientific and scholarly journals, which invest hundreds of millions of dollars each year in their publications, to give away their work. There is something inherently wrong in that.  The Open Access bill is, in this respect, an unconstitutional ‘taking’ of intellectual property by the federal government.

So, what starts out appearing to be a reasonable mandate based on federal funding turns out to be bad news for everyone; from those doing the research to those publishing the research. Ultimately the unskilled consumers of ‘open access’ could also be at risk inasmuch as they are unaware of whether the material they’re reading has any real merit. 

Another way to further debase the process that supports questionable science is to create ‘alternative journals.’ It should come as little surprise that liberal financier George Soros, through his Open Society Institute, is a big fan of ‘open access’ and alternative journals….”

CapitolHillCoffeeHouse: “Open Access” or Covert Propaganda? by Alan Caruba – Oct 15, 06

“This innocent sounding bill [FRPAA] might better be called ‘The Advancement of Junk Science Act of 2006.’

All the government-funded studies, whether having merit or redolent with hidden agendas, would be available to become a platform by which various social agendas would be advanced. 

Nothing truly impedes anyone from access to published research studies; it’s available for those who want to read it.  ‘Open access’, however, is an invitation for more clueless journalism and covert advocacy….

This bill literally forces publishers of medical, scientific and scholarly journals, which invest hundreds of millions of dollars each year in their publications, to give away their work. There is something inherently wrong in that.  The Open Access bill is, in this respect, an unconstitutional ‘taking’ of intellectual property by the federal government.

So, what starts out appearing to be a reasonable mandate based on federal funding turns out to be bad news for everyone; from those doing the research to those publishing the research. Ultimately the unskilled consumers of ‘open access’ could also be at risk inasmuch as they are unaware of whether the material they’re reading has any real merit. 

Another way to further debase the process that supports questionable science is to create ‘alternative journals.’ It should come as little surprise that liberal financier George Soros, through his Open Society Institute, is a big fan of ‘open access’ and alternative journals….”

Publisher opposition to FRPAA 81 publishers have sent an open letter to Cong…

“81 publishers have sent an open letter to Congress opposing the Federal Research Public Access Act (FRPAA)….

The publisher letter also repeats the old nationalist argument: “[FRPAA] would also compel American taxpayers to subsidize the acquisition of important research information by foreign governments and corporations that compete in global markets with the public and private scientific enterprises conducted in the United States.”

Carolyn Maloney used a similar nationalist argument in defense of RWA <http://goo.gl/sh7fX>: “Two-thirds of the access to PubMed central is from non-US users. In effect, current law is giving our overseas scientific competitors in China and elsewhere important information for free. We are already losing scientists due to a reduction in funding for federal research. This policy now sends our value-added research papers overseas at no cost.” 

The AAP first used this argument in 2006 in attacking the first iteration of FRPAA <http://goo.gl/8fHcs>: “Remember — you’re talking about free online access to the world…You are talking about making our competitive research available to foreign governments and corporations.” …”

Publisher opposition to FRPAA 81 publishers have sent an open letter to Cong…

“81 publishers have sent an open letter to Congress opposing the Federal Research Public Access Act (FRPAA)….

The publisher letter also repeats the old nationalist argument: “[FRPAA] would also compel American taxpayers to subsidize the acquisition of important research information by foreign governments and corporations that compete in global markets with the public and private scientific enterprises conducted in the United States.”

Carolyn Maloney used a similar nationalist argument in defense of RWA <http://goo.gl/sh7fX>: “Two-thirds of the access to PubMed central is from non-US users. In effect, current law is giving our overseas scientific competitors in China and elsewhere important information for free. We are already losing scientists due to a reduction in funding for federal research. This policy now sends our value-added research papers overseas at no cost.” 

The AAP first used this argument in 2006 in attacking the first iteration of FRPAA <http://goo.gl/8fHcs>: “Remember — you’re talking about free online access to the world…You are talking about making our competitive research available to foreign governments and corporations.” …”

Peter Suber, Are price barriers in the national interest?

“Allan Adler is the vice president for legal and government affairs of the Association of American Publishers.  Scott Jaschik quotes him making the following remarkable statement about FRPAA:

[Adler] rejected the idea that taxpayer financed research should be open to the public, saying that it was in the national interest for it to be restricted to those who could pay subscription fees. “Remember — you’re talking about free online access to the world,” he said. “You are talking about making our competitive research available to foreign governments and corporations.”

Xenophobic scientific publishers: open access aids foreign enemies | it is NOT junk

“The American Association of Publishers and the anti-open access DC Principles group have sent letters to both houses of Congress outlining why they oppose the Federal Research Public Access Act, which would make the results of all federally funded research publicly available. They largely trot out the same tired “not all publishers are alike, so don’t impose a single model on all of us” baloney they’ve been using for years.

But one part of the letter really caught my eye:

[FRPAA] would also compel American taxpayers to subsidize the acquisition of important research information by foreign governments and corporations that compete in global markets with the public and private scientific enterprises conducted in the United States.

Huh? Think about what they’re saying: The US government should not make the results of taxpayer funded research available to all US citizens because it would also be made available to foreigners, which would give them a leg up over American companies in the competitive global marketplace. And how are the publishers going to protect us from this looming threat? By denying these nefarious foreign entities access to the information they are going to use to trounce us? No! The publishers want Congress to insist that these foreigners pay them a small fee to facilitate their fleecing of America….”

A Tale of Two Bills: The Research Works Act and Federal Research Public Access Act

“The RWA didn’t explicitly say that it would amend copyright law, but it could could have done so implicitly, or by superseding any parts of current law inconsistent with the new law.  Under the NIH policy, authors give permission for OA when they are still the copyright holders.  Even when they later transfer some rights to publishers, they retain the right to authorize OA.  Hence, OA through NIH is authorized by the relevant rightsholder, in this case by the author.  But RWA Section 2.1 would have required publisher consent for that OA.  It would have required publisher consent even when the holder of the relevant rights under current law had already consented.  A consent which suffices under current copyright law would not suffice under RWA.  Either that would violate US copyright law or amend it pro tanto (that is, amend it to the extent necessary to avoid irreconcilable conflict between the old and new statutes).

This may seem like a technical point of law.  But it’s the most radical aspect of RWA.  Under current law, in the US and around the world, authors are the copyright holders in their work until or unless they decide to transfer rights to someone else, such as a publisher.  Copyright consists of a bundle of rights, and authors may lawfully transfer all, some, or none of those rights, as they see fit.  If they retain the right to authorize OA, then no other permission is needed.  Under RWA, however, publishers would have held a new right, beyond copyright, to overrule the rights exercised by authors under copyright law.

It was an unprecedented power grab by publishers.  Unlike past, lopsided legal reforms to benefit publishers, this one was not limited to enhancing the rights of copyright holders against users and consumers.  This one would have harmed all copyright holders except publishers, and benefited publishers even when they were not copyright holders….”

The Harvard Crimson :: Opinion :: Access For All

“Our professors do the research. They write the papers and proofread them. They even do the peer review. Then they sign the copyright over to publishers, who don’t pay them a dime—they’re paid by grants and salary, our taxes, and tuition. 

Harvard then pays again for the journals—many of them over $10,000 each—and most of us feel personally the bite each term when we buy our sourcebooks. Many of these cost upwards of $100 not because they’re on paper rather than online (printing costs pennies a page), but because of the fees charged by publishers like Elsevier (1,387 journals ranging across academia) and Wiley (348 journals), some higher than $1 per page. 

That’s three ways we pay for the same research, writing, proofreading, and peer review. Even Harvard has found the cost too high, and has cut down on its subscriptions. …

Students can make several big contributions to this movement. Members of Congress need to hear from their constituents in support of the Federal Research Public Access Act (FRPAA), a bipartisan bill to make taxpayer-funded published research—most scientific work in the U.S.—freely available. Students can explain to their professors why they should publish in open access journals when available, and better yet why the University should establish a freely-available repository for all Harvard researchers’ work. Best of all, seniors can set an example now by making their theses available to the world at www.hcs.harvard.edu/thesis. Each of us can show politicians, faculty members, and present and future colleagues that we value open access to academic research. It’s up to us to say it: Knowledge is for everyone. …”