On December 16, 2011, the Research Works Act, HR 3699, was introduced in the US House of Representatives by the Chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Darrell Issa (R-CA), and by co-sponsor Rep. Carolyn Maloney (D-NY). The legislation would have rolled back the NIH Public Access Policy and blocked the development of similar policies at other federal agencies. Essentially, the bill sought to prohibit federal agencies from conditioning their grants to require that articles reporting on publicly funded research be made accessible to the public online.
ARL and others wrote letters to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform voicing opposition to the Research Works Act:
- ARL and 89 other institutions and organizations [PDF] (Feb. 24, 2012)
- OpenTheGovernment.org and 30 additional organizations (Feb. 9, 2012)
- Association of American Universities and Association of Public and Land-grant Universities [PDF] (Feb. 6, 2012)
- ARL and 9 other library and advocacy organizations [PDF] (Jan. 24, 2012)
In response to this extensive opposition to the Research Works Act, and in response to the grassroots Cost of Knowledge boycott of the business practices of scholarly publishing giant Elsevier, Elsevier withdrew its support of the legislation on February 27, although they “continue to oppose government mandates in this area.”
Also on February 27, the co-sponsors of the Research Works Act, Reps. Darrell Issa and Carolyn Maloney, stated that they would not take legislative action on the bill. Reps. Issa and Maloney said:
The introduction of HR 3699 has spurred a robust, expansive debate on the topics of scientific and scholarly publishing, intellectual property protection, and public access to federally funded research. Since its introduction, we have heard from numerous stakeholders and interested parties on both sides of this important issue.
As the costs of publishing continue to be driven down by new technology, we will continue to see a growth in open access publishers. This new and innovative model appears to be the wave of the future. The transition must be collaborative, and must respect copyright law and the principles of open access. The American people deserve to have access to research for which they have paid. This conversation needs to continue and we have come to the conclusion that the Research Works Act has exhausted the useful role it can play in the debate. As such, we want Americans concerned about access to research and other participants in this debate to know we will not be taking legislative action on HR 3699, the Research Works Act. We do intend to remain involved in efforts to examine and study the protection of intellectual property rights and open access to publicly funded research.