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Now You See it, Now You Don't

At The Tree of Life blog, Jonathan Eisen asks New York Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney and California Congressman Darrell Issa if they're serious about a new bill they've co-sponsored that would limit public access to NIH-funded research. As to why they would do this, Eisen notes that the lawmakers have received donations from the publisher Elsevier, which has come out against an open-access model of scientific publishing.

Jonathan Eisen is not the only one riled by this bill. At the It Is Not Junk blog, his brother Michael Eisen says the NIH public-access policy has been "quite unpopular with powerful publishing cartels that are hellbent on denying US taxpayers access to and benefits from research they paid to produce."

The new Research Works Act prohibits any federal agency from authorizing the dissemination of private-sector research without the prior consent of the publisher, and requires that authors consent to the dissemination of their work within a publishing network. "This bill would not only end the NIH's Public Access Policy, but it would forbid any effort on the part of any agency to ensure taxpayer access to work funded by the federal government," Michael Eisen says. He adds that the term "private-sector research" is deceptive, and under the bill's definition of such work would still include NIH-funded research.

At The Atlantic, Rebecca Rosen says it's a surprise to see Issa's name on the bill. Issa has come out in favor of an open-access Internet, and has opposed the Stop Online Piracy Act, which many have said would be the end of the Internet in its current form, Rosen says. In the end, Rosen adds, "If the goal is protecting the publishing industry, this bill's a winner. But for those interested in improving access to scientific research, they should stay far, far away."