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Call for quick action: Elsevier trying to restrict open access to US-government-funded research!

I'm sorry I didn't post this earlier; I only learned of it 24 hours ago and then spent too much time wondering why nobody had posted it here.


I'll simply copy the first three paragraphs:


Most of you will know that the major US science-funding agencies require the work they fund (from the public purse) to be made available as open-access to the public that funded it. And it’s hard for me to imagine anyone sees that requirement as anything other than straightforwardly just.

But you may not know about the Research Works Act <http://www.michaeleisen.org/blog/?p=807>, a truly vile piece of legislation being proposed by two Elsevier-funded shills in the US Congress, which would make it illegal for funding bodies to impose this perfectly natural requirement. It may not be surprising that a corporation as predatory as Elsevier <http://svpow.wordpress.com/2011/10/22/economics-of-open-source-publishing/> wants legal protection for its exploitative business model of stealing publicly funded research; but it shocked me to find that this preposterous Act ever got out of committee (unlike two earlier failed attempts to overturn open-access mandates).

The good news is that there is something we can do. The Office of Science Technology and Policy (OSTP) has issued a Request For Information -- basically, it wants your opinion -- on public access to peer-reviewed scholarly publications resulting from federally funded research. You can read about this in (too much) detail here <http://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2011/11/04/2011-28623/request-for-information-public-access-to-peer-reviewed-scholarly-publications-resulting-from>, but the bottom line is that you should email your comments to publicaccess@ostp.gov _before the extended deadline of 12th January_.


The post goes on to mention that the OSTP seems to actually listen; several people who e-mailed them have received nice, non-automatic responses.

It is very important that not only US residents should write to the OSTP. First of all, science simply isn't localized (except maybe to "outside North Korea"); second, Elsevier officially sits in the Netherlands, not the US, so the Research Works Act cannot be spun as "protecting American business"; third, the RWA would make the US look ridiculously evil, and only responses from all over the world can make this clear.

Incidentally, like all other such companies, Elsevier doesn't pay the editors of its journals much (elsewhere, John Hutchinson mentions getting 250 $ a year for being an associate editor of an Elsevier journal), and of course the reviewers get nothing. Unsurprisingly, then, Elsevier's latest known profit margin was 36 %, within the range of Springer, Wiley and Informa (32 to 42 %). <http://poeticeconomics.blogspot.com/2012/01/enormous-profits-of-stm-scholarly.html> They really don't need subsidies from taxpayer money.

Could somebody please forward this to the vrtpaleo list?