Representatives Issa (R-CA) and Maloney (D-NY) introduce anti-open access legislation

On December 16, 2011, H.R. 3699, "the Research Works Act", was introduced by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), Chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, and Committee member Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY). This is how the Association of American Publishers describes the bill:

The Research Works Act will prohibit federal agencies from unauthorized free public dissemination of journal articles that report on research which, to some degree, has been federally-funded but is produced and published by private sector publishers receiving no such funding. It would also prevent non-government authors from being required to agree to such free distribution of these works. Additionally, it would preempt federal agencies’ planned funding, development and back-office administration of their own electronic repositories for such works, which would duplicate existing copyright-protected systems and unfairly compete with established university, society and commercial publishers.

The legislation seeks to overturn the current NIH policy of requiring open access to published papers supported by NIH research grants.

Let's take a quick look at the Association of "American" Publishers. These are the companies represented on its board of directors:

  • American Chemical Society. The American Chemical Society (ACS) is a scientific society operating under a Congressional Charter.
  • Cambridge Information Group. A privately owned group of information services and publishing companies and educational institutions, founded in 1971 by Robert N. Snyder and Philip E. Hixon and headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland.
  • Cengage Learning. Once part of Thomson, Cengage is headquartered in Stamford, Connecticut, and has approximately 5,800 employees worldwide across 35 countries.
  • Disney Publishing Worldwide, Inc. The publishing group controlled by The Walt Disney Company.
  • Elsevier. Part of the Reed Elsevier group. Based in Amsterdam, the company has operations in the United Kingdom, USA and elsewhere.
  • Hachette Book Group. Owned by Lagardère, a French-based multinational conglomerate headquartered in Paris.
  • Harlequin Enterprises. Harlequin Enterprises Limited is a Toronto, Ontario-based company that is a publisher of series romance and women's fiction. Owned by the Torstar Corporation, the largest newspaper publisher in Canada.
  • HarperCollins Publishers Worldwide, Inc. Owned by News Corporation, a company listed on the US and Australian stock exchanges
  • Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Partly owned by Education Media and Publishing Group International, more commonly known as EMPGI, an education company with operations in China, India, Saudi Arabia, and Libya. EMPGI was incorporated in May 2008 as joint venture between EMPG, the holding company that controls Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, and Istithmar World, a private equity vehicle of Dubai World, which is owned by the government of Dubai.
  • John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Also referred to as Wiley, (NYSE: JWA), a global publishing company that specializes in academic publishing and markets its products to professionals and consumers, students and instructors in higher education, and researchers and practitioners in scientific, technical, medical, and scholarly fields. The company produces books, journals, and encyclopedias, in print and electronically, as well as online products and services, training materials, and educational materials for undergraduate, graduate, and continuing education students.
  • Macmillan. Owned by Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck, a Stuttgart-based publishing holding company which owns publishing companies worldwide. Among the holding group's international publications are Nature and Scientific American.
  • McGraw-Hill Education. Owned by the McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc., (NYSE: MHP), a publicly traded corporation headquartered in Rockefeller Center in New York City. Its primary areas of business are financial, education, publishing, broadcasting, and business services. It publishes numerous textbooks and magazines, including Architectural Record and Aviation Week, and is the parent company of Standard & Poor's, Platts, and J.D. Power and Associates.
  • Pearson Education North America. Pearson, the largest education publisher in the world, is owned by Pearson PLC, which is headquartered in London, England, with offices in Harlow and Oxford.
  • The Perseus Books Group An American publishing company founded in 1996 by investor Frank Pearl, and with ties to Perseus, L.L.C. a merchant bank and private equity fund management company headquartered in Washington, D.C., with an office in New York and an associated advisory firm in Munich.
  • Princeton University Press
  • Random House. Random House, Inc. is the largest general-interest trade book publisher in the world. It has been owned since 1998 by the German private media corporation Bertelsmann and has become the umbrella brand for Bertelsmann book publishing.
  • Simon & Schuster, Inc. A division of CBS Corporation, and one of the four largest English-language publishers (alongside Random House, Penguin and HarperCollins). CBS Corporation is controlled by Sumner Redstone through National Amusements, its parent.
  • Scholastic, Inc.. Scholastic Inc. is the world's largest publisher and distributor of children's books, with headquarters in the following cities:
    • New York City, United States
    • Toronto, Ontario
    • Mexico City, Mexico
    • London, England
    • Shanghai, China
    • Gurgaon, Haryana, India
    • Lisarow, Australia
    • Auckland, New Zealand
    • Buenos Aires, Argentina
    • San Juan, Puerto Rico
    • Shiki, Saitama, Japan
    • Seoul, South Korea
  • Wolters Kluwer, Ovid Technologies. Ovid is an operating company of Wolters Kluwer Health (WKHealth), a division of Wolters Kluwer NV - a leading worldwide publishing and information services company with 20,000 employees and operations in 26 countries. Wolters Kluwer shares are quoted on the Euronext Amsterdam.
  • W.W. Norton & Company, Inc. An independent American book publishing company based in New York City.

The text of the bill follows.

HR 3699 IH
112th CONGRESS
1st Session

H. R. 3699
To ensure the continued publication and integrity of peer-reviewed research works by the private sector.

IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
December 16, 2011

Mr. ISSA (for himself and Mrs. MALONEY) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform

A BILL
To ensure the continued publication and integrity of peer-reviewed research works by the private sector.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.

This Act may be cited as the `Research Works Act'.

SEC. 2. LIMITATION ON FEDERAL AGENCY ACTION.

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.

SEC. 3. DEFINITIONS.

In this Act:
(1) AUTHOR- The term `author' means a person who writes a private-sector research work. Such term does not include an officer or employee of the United States Government acting in the regular course of his or her duties.
(2) NETWORK DISSEMINATION- The term `network dissemination' means distributing, making available, or otherwise offering or disseminating a private-sector research work through the Internet or by a closed, limited, or other digital or electronic network or arrangement.
(3) PRIVATE-SECTOR RESEARCH WORK- The term `private-sector research work' means an article intended to be published in a scholarly or scientific publication, or any version of such an article, that is not a work of the United States Government (as defined in section 101 of title 17, United States Code), describing or interpreting research funded in whole or in part by a Federal agency and to which a commercial or nonprofit publisher has made or has entered into an arrangement to make a value-added contribution, including peer review or editing. Such term does not include progress reports or raw data outputs routinely required to be created for and submitted directly to a funding agency in the course of research.


More information

If a drug candidate is

If a drug candidate is invented in the course of NIH funded research, it will take millions of dollars and lots of time to turn that drug candidate into an actual drug that a doctor can prescribe. This is incredibly risky. The US government does not invest money to do that, and I would not want the government to invest my taxpayer dollars into such a risky thing. It takes private money to turn ideas into products. But people will not invest their money if there is no promise of getting a big profit -- and a patent is what ensures that.

So -- if you want taxpayer dollars to fund research that never goes anywhere, your thought is fine. If you want the fruits to be turned into useful products, then your thought is foolish.