The taxpayer argument for open access
peter.suber's bookmarks 2022-03-02
"There are many arguments for open access. Let's focus here on just one: the argument that taxpayers have a right to open access to the results of the research funded by their taxes.
If the research papers based on taxpayer-funded research are locked away in conventional journals that require payments for access, then taxpayers will end up paying twice for the same research. The primary version of the argument is that it would be wrong to make taxpayers pay a second fee for access. A secondary version of the argument is that tax money should be spent in the public interest, not to create intellectual property for the benefit of private publishers, who acquire it and profit from it without paying the authors or compensating the public treasury. Both versions of the argument object that taxpayers are paying twice when they shouldn't have to. The first version of the argument focuses on overpayment, while the second focuses on misuse of one or both payments.
A third form of the argument holds that the current U.S. rule to put the works of tax-paid government employees into the public domain (Section 105 of the Copyright Act) should be extended to the works of tax-paid government contractors and grantees. It holds that the arguments for our current policy also apply to this extension of the policy, so that it would be inconsistent to support the current policy and oppose its extension. I won't examine this third form of the argument here. Other aspects of the argument take all my space, and I dealt with some of these issues in SOAN for 7/4/03.
Here are five objections to the taxpayer argument and at least five replies. My purpose is to clarify the argument, identify its strong and weak forms, and show where it comes to an end and must be supplemented by other arguments for open access...."