New bill proposes results of federally funded science be available to all:
- If Congressman Martin Sabo of Minnesota has his way, the results of federally funded research in science and medicine will be available freely to all. Rep. Sabo introduced a bill, Public Access to Science Act, HR 2613, on June 26, 2003. The proposed legislation states that copyright protection is not allowed for any work produced as a result of federally funded research. The legislation further states: “the Internet makes it possible for this information to be promptly available not only to every scientist and physician who could use it to further the public good, but to every person with access to the Internet at home, in school, or in a library.”
Sabo estimated that the U. S. government spends $45 billion annually on scientific and medical research. These efforts are directed mostly at basic research that provides new knowledge and the basis for invention, innovation, new products, and improved clinical practice. The published literature is essential to the conduct of science and the scientists’ needs to keep up to date in their own and related fields. Sabo said: “It is wrong when a breast cancer patient cannot access federally funded research data paid for by her hard-earned taxes. It is wrong when the family whose child has a rare disease must pay again for research data their tax dollars already paid for.”
….The report also pointed out that open access and sharing provides greater returns to the pubic investment in research. These returns are manifested in patents, copyrights, invention, innovation, and new products.
The Sabo bill by itself will not guarantee free and open access to science and medical research results. The bill may motivate and encourage new ways of communicating research results, new business models, and new ways of financing publication of research results. The bill is not likely to pass both houses of Congress. Publishers, trade associations, and others interested in preserving the current system of publication will fight the legislation with “education” campaigns and money.
History reveals that easy access to information makes a difference. Open and free access to basic knowledge results in the creation of useful knowledge that contributes to international health and wealth. New models of communication will require collaboration among universities, publishers, professional societies, and government. While Congress is not likely to see the value of open access and sharing, many feel that the concept will succeed because the time is right. [Information Today]
Free free, set them free.