May 22, 2014 | By Adi Kamdar

FIRST Act Amended to Make Open Access Provision Actually Pretty Good

Finally, some good news from Congress this week. Patent and surveillance reform may be suffering setbacks, but open access may be recovering thanks to a new provision passed yesterday that mandates a solid public access policy for NASA, NSF, NIST, the National Weather Service, and the Office of Science of the Department of Energy.

The House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology marked up H.R. 4186, the Frontiers in Innovation, Research, Science and Technology (FIRST) Act. This science funding bill was controversial for a number of reasons, but we have been focused on one part: Section 303, dealing with public access to scientific research.

Calling this a "public access" section is a charitable reading: it extended embargo periods to up to three years, it allowed for simple linking to articles rather than the creation of an archive, and it delayed implementation unnecessarily long. (We've ranted about this bill time and again.)

But a glimmer of hope appeared at yesterday's markup. Reps. Jim Sensenbrenner and Zoe Lofgren, introduced an amendment that radically changed Section 303. The new amendment [pdf] maps closely onto Sensenbrenner's Public Access to Public Science Act (H.R. 3157). It sets the embargo period at 12 months (like the NIH's current policy), though it allows stakeholders to extend this by 6 months if they can show a "substantial and unique harm." The amendment was also designed to facilitate long-term preservation, broad analysis of works, and closer investigation of broad copyright licenses. The current version is not perfect, but it is much improved—huge kudos to Sensenbrenner and Lofgren for standing up for open access.

Ultimately, we want a strong public access policy with short (if any) embargo periods, strong reuse provisions, and ease of use for readers and researchers alike. The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research (FASTR) bill is the closest vehicle we have for getting there, and we urge you to tell your representatives to support it.


Deeplinks Topics

Stay in Touch

NSA Spying

EFF is leading the fight against the NSA's illegal mass surveillance program. Learn more about what the program is, how it works, and what you can do.

Follow EFF

EFF Technologist Noah Swartz has some handy tips for recognizing pre-paid debit card scams https://eff.org/r.6x6n

Jul 2 @ 1:38pm

MPAA continues its shameless lobbying of US officials, pays $165K to upgrade movie screening rooms in embassies: https://eff.org/r.f1lx

Jul 2 @ 1:23pm

Academic research shouldn't be locked up or cost a fortune. Tell your lawmakers to support open access: https://eff.org/r.5u2g

Jul 2 @ 12:31pm
JavaScript license information