Mike Doyle: Make Publicly-Funded Research Publicly Available

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Mike Doyle continues to be my favorite PA Congressman. Here he is on a new bill (which he has sponsored versions of before) that says the public should get free access to research paid for with public dollars. With so many colleges and universities in Pennsylvania, every member of the PA delegation should be on this bill:

Just over a month after internet folk hero and activist Aaron Swartz ended his own life, a bipartisan group of law-makers have introduced legislation that would make progress on a cause near and dear to his heart: Open access to publicly funded research. The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), introduced this week by Reps. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Mike Doyle (D-PA), and Kevin Yoder (R-KS) in the House and Senators John Cornyn (R-TX) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) in the Senate, “require[s] federal agencies with annual extramural research budgets of $100 million or more to provide the public with online access to research manuscripts stemming from funded research no later than six months after publication in a peer-reviewed journal,” building on the success of the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) 2008 public access policy.

Swartz faced a maximum sentence of decades in prison at the time of his death for charges related to his alleged downloading of nearly 5 million documents from the academic database JSTOR, in what many believe was an attempt to release the data. While efforts to reform the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), the law Swartz was being prosecuted under, using the moniker “Aaron’s Law” emerged quickly, the introduction of FASTR is the first legislative effort since his death to address the open access movement — the effort to provide unrestricted access to peer-reviewed research online.

(via Andrea Peterson)

This entry was posted in Miscellany.

4 Responses to Mike Doyle: Make Publicly-Funded Research Publicly Available

  1. GDub says:

    Um, I know this isn’t the cool position, but who pays for the peer review function performed by journals? There is plenty of idiocy in the Swrtz case, but his immature stunt was directed against a database, not scandalous profiting from publicly funded research.

    • Jon says:

      Who pays for the research that gets peer-reviewed in the journals? The taxpayers. Very irritated by your characterization of this as the “cool” position. If it were actually the dominant position, it would be law. Obviously it is not law, is far from becoming law, and so we need to keep talking about it until the politics catches up. So hip of you to be *over* good ideas before they’ve even become policy.

  2. GDub says:

    I guess I’m unclear what the issue is. Any taxpayer in many states can go to a university library and look at journals for free, with all the research in them ( I assume you mean sciences, but humanities too). The government in general (not always) provides grants to subsidize the cost of doing research, as a way to increase the amount of research activity, not for the final product. Again, what’s the issue?

    How far do you want to go with the “taxpayers paid for” line…how about General Motors?

    Frankly, the JSTOR case has been grossly mischaracterized, as if they are evil schemers putting knowledge under large rocks. Calling a guy who was dismayed at being arrested after a deliberate act of civil disobedience a hero is…different than has been applied to others who used the same tactic.

    • Jon says:

      The issue is that we all already paid for this research, but then people need to pay again to access it. Any intellectual property the government helps pay for should be public domain. It’s not like GM, it’s a non-rival good. We can all read this stuff online at the same time. The scarcity is artificial.