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Over 125 organisations join together to oppose the policy forcing immediate free distribution of peer-reviewed articles
2019-12-20

In a new major letter signalling deep concern, more than 125 organisations – representing publishers in scientific and medical societies, global companies, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce – have expressed their strong opposition to a proposed Administration policy that would mandate immediate free distribution of peer-reviewed journal articles reporting on federally funded research. Along with the Association of American Publishers (AAP), the American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the American Chemical Society, the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, and the New England Journal of Medicine are among the many signatories.

Peer-reviewed articles are not free to produce. Hundreds of non-profit and commercial publishers across America make significant investments, at no cost to taxpayers, to finance the peer-review, publication, distribution, and long-term stewardship of these articles. Relying on a highly important and successful marketplace and the bedrock copyright laws that make it possible, publishers disseminate these articles to users in hundreds of foreign markets, supporting billions of dollars in U.S. exports and an extensive network of American businesses and jobs. This network includes American professional societies that invest in educating and nurturing our nation’s scientists, engineers, doctors, and other researchers.

The letter notes that “publishers both support and enable ‘open access’ business models and ‘open data’ as important options within a larger framework that assumes critical publisher investments remain viable. Under a legacy regulation that is still in force today, proprietary journal articles that report on federally funded research must be made available for free within 12 months of publication. This mandate already amounts to a significant government intervention in the private market. Going below the current 12 month ‘embargo’ would make it very difficult for most American publishers to invest in publishing these articles. As a consequence, it would place increased financial responsibility on the government through diverted federal research grant funds or additional monies to underwrite the important value added by publishing. In the coming years, this cost shift would place billions of dollars of new and additional burden on taxpayers.”

The letter comes on the heels of another strong letter to the Administration from Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC), Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Intellectual Property Subcommittee, which expresses similar concerns about the proposed policy.

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