Heather Joseph: Getting the message across

There is a very nice interview with Heather Joseph, the Executive Director of the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) about Open Access:

We find that the more policy makers delve into the issue and understand the benefits of the mandate for advancing science and improving public health, the more committed and supportive they become. The roadblocks we’ve run into have been largely the result of misinformation–members of Congress have been told everything from, “the policy will encourage government censorship of science,” to, “the policy will destroy peer review,” to, “the policy will encourage bioterrorism.”
The latest area of confusion has been copyright. Opponents of the policy have long argued that the NIH public access policy conflicts with current U.S. copyright law. However, as leading legal experts have attested, the policy is a contract issue, and does not present a conflict in any way with copyright law (2).
As this became clear, the latest attempt to derail the policy took a new tack–the introduction of proposed legislation to amend current copyright law to make policies such as the NIH’s illegal. The “Fair Copyright in Research Works Act” (HR 6845) would change U.S. Copyright law to forbid agencies like the NIH from conditioning their grants to require public access to the published results of its research. The bill would essentially forbid all government agencies from seeking any rights to the research that they fund, and continue to limit the reach of results to only those who can afford to pay for them.
As with all of the previous attempts to block or reverse the NIH policy, the most effective countermeasure is accurate information. Members of Congress need to understand that researchers want greater access to the work of other researchers, and that they want other researchers to be able to access their results seamlessly as well. They need to know that journals such as the JCB thrive with access policies that do even more than what the NIH policy calls for, and in doing so effectively serve the interests of the scientific community and the public.

Read the whole thing.

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