March 23, 2009

Hal Abelson Continues To Make Headway [7:31 am]

First DSpace, now this — from MIT’s student paper, The Tech: MIT Will Publish All Faculty Articles Free In Online Repository (pdf)

Faculty voted unanimously this week to approve a resolution that allows MIT to freely and publicly distribute research articles they write. MIT plans to create a repository to make these articles available online.

The resolution, effective immediately after it was passed on Wednesday, makes MIT the first university to commit to making its faculty’s research papers publicly available. Though the School of Education at Stanford and several departments at Harvard have already adopted these policies, MIT is the first entire university to make this pledge.

The open-access rule will only apply to articles published since Wednesday. Researchers who wish to opt-out do so by sending a letter notifying the Office of the Provost.

Of course, there’s also this from today’s Boston Globe: Protect our access to medical research (pdf)

IF YOU THINK this is the era of e-government and transparency, it’s time to think again. Hard as it is to imagine, there’s a move afoot in Congress to take away the public’s free online access to tax-funded medical research findings.

[...] Under the current policy, which is similar to practices of other funders worldwide, researchers who accept NIH funds must deposit their resulting peer-reviewed scientific articles in the PubMed Central archive. There the articles are permanently preserved in digital form, made searchable, linked to related information, and offered free to all on the Web. It’s a fair deal: Researchers get financial support for their work; taxpayers get a resource that will further advance science and address the public’s need to know.

But a group of well-heeled scientific journal publishers is trying to turn back the clock. They’ve backed legislation to rescind this widely hailed NIH policy. Elsevier, publisher of The Lancet, for example, is part of the Association of American Publishers, which has joined with the so-called DC Principles Coalition to ramrod the bill in Congress.

The bill, I believe, is HR.801 (HR.6845 in the 110th Congress). From the Congressional Research Service’s Summary:

Fair Copyright in Research Works Act - Prohibits any federal agency from imposing any condition, in connection with a funding agreement, that requires the transfer or license to or for a federal agency, or requires the absence or abandonment, of specified exclusive rights of a copyright owner in an extrinsic work.

Prohibits any federal agency from: (1) imposing, as a condition of a funding agreement, the waiver of, or assent to, any such prohibition; or (2) asserting any rights in material developed under any funding agreement that restrain or limit the acquisition or exercise of copyright rights in an extrinsic work. [...]

Nice name: “Fair Copyright in Research Works Act” — of course, “fairness” is in the eye of the beholder.

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