Representatives. FASTR is a version of
the previously introduced Federal Research Public Access Act (three times
before), which failed to become law.
FASTR requires that federally funded scientific research in papers is made
available to the public after six months.
Apparently, the agencies
responsible for funding the research are also charged with ensuring the
publications are accessible to the public free of charge. This seems like a good idea—the public funds
the research through taxes so why shouldn’t the public get free access to the
research results? And, there are many
supporters (Electronic Frontier Foundation, Infojustice, PLOS, the Associationof College and Research Libraries, American Library Association, Association of
Academic Health Sciences Libraries, Association of Research Libraries, CreativeCommons, Greater Western Library Alliance, Public Knowledge, Public Library of Science
and SPARC). But, there is also
opposition by the Association of American Publishers. Why the opposition? Well, the Association of American Publishers
released some comments in 2008 against the National Institutes of Health’s
public access policy to research results after one year (which is somewhat
similar to FASTR):
or problem that has not been proven to exist. In doing so, the NIH policy
introduces legal conflicts with an author’s and publisher’s copyright and
undermines intellectual property rights and the economic incentive of publishers
and rights holders. The policy makes their copyrighted material available
without compensation in online sites, for dissemination to anyone, anywhere,
anytime. Such mandatory open access erodes and disrupts the proven, balanced
economic model that supports and sustains journals as dynamic and effective
vehicles for promoting scientific communication for centuries. It removes the
substantial safeguards that journal publishers take to protect their journals
from unauthorized misappropriation.
North American-based science and technology publishers account for upwards of
40% of all peer-reviewed scientific research papers published annually.
Therefore, mandatory public access policies will disproportionately impact U.S.
publishers. By severely restricting the scope of protection for a critical
class of copyrighted works, the NIH policy deprives both authors and publishers
of their free choice to use the business model best suited for disseminating
content and could ultimately reduce incentives to make substantial investments
in peer reviewing, publishing, and disseminating scientific research.
At the same time, the primary beneficiaries will largely be non-US entities who
neither fund nor invest in research but will have free access to the
information in the copyrighted journal articles. U.S. publishers have already
gathered evidence that companies in China and India are planning to resell and
distribute without authorization articles downloaded from NIH’s PubMed Central
database — material produced by U.S publishers at their own expense.