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RE: Sabo Bill: Measure Calls for Wider Access to Federally Financed Research

Dear Ann,

The bill will not, by itself, provide or assure open access to published
research results. It will, however, quite possibly create a climate in
which open access is widely recognised as a societal benefit, indeed an
imperative for publicly funded research, and so help authors make
appropriate choices when deciding where to submit their papers.

An important point will be the bill's enforcement. If I understand it
correctly, even now, if research is federally funded in full, the
written-up results cannot be copyrighted in the US. So theoretically, they
should be in the public domain. But are they freely available? If they
are, I'd like to know where.

An extremely helpful aspect of the so-called Bethesda Principles, which
are being developed by a group of prominent funding bodies (see
http://www.earlham.edu/~peters/fos/bethesda.htm), is the concept that open
access is a property of an article, *not* of a journal or a publisher.
This makes it possible for traditional publishers to make the transition
to open access publishing models by offering authors the choice: pay and
your article will be open access; or don't pay and we'll have to recoup
the costs by selling access rights (via subscriptions or licences) and
thereby restrict dissemination to those who have the means to buy access.

The Sabo bill will encourage publishers to start providing that choice.
After all, the option of selling access will not be available to them
(what's there to sell?) for federally funded research results. Authors, if
they want to be funded by public money, will have to make their results
freely available and so are encouraged to make the choice for open access
if that choice is there.

At least one journal I know of, Physiological Genomics
(www.physiolgenomics.org) has already announced making that choice
available to authors. Rumour has it that other, important, journals will
be following suit, such as the EMBO Journal. Perhaps the Nature Publishing
Group who is to take over that journal in January 2004 can confirm this?

Jan Velterop
BioMed Central
The Open Access Publishers

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Ann Okerson [mailto:ann.okerson@yale.edu]
> Sent: 27 June 2003 01:32
> To: liblicense-l@lists.yale.edu
> Subject: Sabo Bill: Measure Calls for Wider Access to 
> Federally Financed
> Research 
> Re. the article below:  More details about the Sabo bill and a citation to
> it, when it is presented, will be helpful in understanding its aims and
> how they can be realized.
> For example, is not clear how this bill can provide or assure open access
> to published journal articles.  Open access, as recently defined in the
> journals context, is a not only an ideal, but it is also a business model.  
> Open access would make articles available for free to all from moment of
> publication because the costs of publication *and* permanent access have
> been paid in advance behind the scenes, by authors, sponsors, foundations,
> government grants, and the like, rather than thru customer subscription.  
> So, it is not easy to see how letting authors keep copyright over their
> works, or even ceding copyright to the US government, solves the problem
> of supporting peer reviewed journals financially.  That has to happen
> somehow, no matter who owns copyright.  There are real costs.
> But maybe the bill is not intended to support open access for journal
> articles so much as to encourage our ability to go to government agencies'
> web sites and read accounts & results of government funded research
> projects and their findings.  Those reports are not the same as journal
> articles, for the most part. Ann Okerson/Yale Library