Publicly-funded knowledge should be public

I live in the USA. Our government issues many grants to scientists for research via the National Institute of Health. I recently found out about the NIH's recent requirement that publicly-funded research must be published freely online within 12 months. As you can imagine, i think this is a remarkably Good Thing (though 12 months seems a little bit long for fast-moving fields).

Apparently, John Conyers and several co-sponsors have introduced HR 801, which appears intended to overturn this remarkable policy, primarily for the benefit of the companies that publish scientific journals.

This bill is a shame, and i had hoped for better from Rep. Conyers, who otherwise has a remarkably positive record as a legislator advocating for government transparency and the public good. Sadly, his stance on so-called "Intellectual Property" seems characterized by heavy-handed legislation designed to benefit the parties already heavily favored by the current imbalanced copyright situation.

If you live in the US (and especially if you live in Conyers' district in Michigan), please send him e-mail or get in touch by phone and tell him to drop the bill. You might also check the list of cosponsors to see if one of them is more local to you.

If you want to read more, Lawrence Lessig has written about this issue, addressing Congressman Conyers directly in the Huffington Post. Curiously, Rep. Conyers' web site contains no mention of HR 801.

Tags: policy