In a bid to shine light on government-funded research that is published behind paywalls, University of California, Berkeley's Michael Eisen has posted five Science papers to his personal website, which the Nature News Blog notes may be a copyright violation.
"I am taking a stand [on] the accessibility of research carried out by the government," Eisen tells ScienceInsider. "But I'm not interested in breaking the law."
Eisen, who is a co-founder of the nonprofit open-access publisher Public Library of Science, further says that the papers, which were mostly written by researchers at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, should not be subject to copyright, as work produced by the government is not eligible for such protections.
Indeed, a lawyer tells ScienceInsider that Eisen would be correct if all the authors were government employees. As these papers have some non-governmental authors, they fall into a "a legal gray area."
Science says that it does not ask authors for copyright, just a license to publish.
The papers Eisen posted to his site detail findings made using the Mars rover Curiosity, and in an addendum to his blog post, he notes that NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory has now posted the papers to its site as well.