Peter Suber, United States doubles down on open access to federally-funded research SPARC Open Access Newsletter, 3/2/13
peter.suber's bookmarks 2013-03-02
"In the second half of February, the US federal government took two big steps to assure OA for federally-funded research. First, legislators from both parties introduced a strong new bill in both houses of Congress. The bill would essentially extend the successful green OA mandate at the NIH across the largest research-funding agencies in the federal government. Second, just eight days later, the Obama administration directed the same agencies, and about a dozen more, to develop OA mandates within the next six months. If you're counting, that's two houses of Congress, two political parties, and two branches of government....Both FRPAA and FASTR strengthen the OA mandate at the NIH by shortening the maximum embargo to six months, and then extend the strengthened policy across the federal government. FASTR goes one step further by requiring libre OA, not merely gratis OA, or by removing permission barriers and not merely price barriers....Simultaneous steps by two branches of government is a sign that the tide has turned on US public policy. The directive is also important because it's an action. While we debate FASTR, the White House directive is already taking effect. It's not a mere proposal. By next summer all of the largest federal funding agencies will have draft OA policies ready for review and implementation. This is seriously good for researchers, good for taxpayers, and good for everyone who depends on research for new medicines, useful technologies, or effective public policies....The White House directive and FASTR pull in the same general direction, but they are not identical....Both require deposit in an OA repository (green OA) and remain silent about publishing in OA journals (gold OA). In that sense, both initiatives build on the successful green OA mandate at the NIH, and reject the gold-favoring approach adopted by the Research Councils UK....FASTR does not make the White House directive unnecessary. FASTR may or may not be adopted. If it is adopted, it will be after some time for study, education, lobbying, amendment, negotiation, and debate. By contrast, the White House directive took effect on February 22, the day it was announced. The wheels are already turning. Compared to this executive action, FASTR is slower....Similarly, the White House directive does not make FASTR unnecessary. On the contrary, we need legislation to codify federal OA policies. The next president could rescind today's White House directive, but could not rescind legislation....FASTR is stronger than the White House directive in some respects (shorter embargoes, stronger libre provisions), and the directive is stronger than FASTR in other respects (requiring OA for data as well as articles, and covering more agencies)....Some friends of OA have criticized the White House policy for allowing excessive embargoes. I join the criticism but praise the policy. We must distinguish a backward step from a forward step that could have been larger. The White House directive is a forward step that could have been larger. Whatever the reasons were for not taking a larger step forwards, there's no sense at all in which it's a step backwards. At the same time, the White House should understand that publisher requests for embargoes, and especially requests to lengthen embargoes, are requests to put private interests ahead of the public interest. Even evidence that private interests would benefit from that imbalance should not suffice to bend public policy towards them...."