According to the March 28 issue of Library Journal:
On March 20 some 24 new co-sponsors signed on to H.R. 4004, The Federal Research Public Access Act. Joining the bill's original sponsors, Rep. Mike Doyle (D-PA), Rep. Lacy Clay (D-MO) and Rep. Kevin Yoder (R-KS) are 14 Democrats and ten Republicans from 18 states and the District of Columbia.
The bill is backed by the American Association of Law Libraries, American Library Association, Association of Academic Health Sciences Libraries, Association of College & Research Libraries, Association of Research Libraries, Creative Commons, Greater Western Library Alliance, Public Knowledge, Public Library of Science and the Scholarly Publishing & Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC), as well as leaders of many research universities.
It has been opposed by the Association of American Publishers' Professional and Scholarly Publishing Division (AAP/PSP) and the DC Principles Coalition in letters signed by 81 U.S. scholarly journal publishers, including Elsevier, John Wiley & Sons, The McGraw-Hill Companies, Springer Publishing Company, Taylor & Francis, and Wolters Kluwer, as well as a large number of professional societies.
Columbia University has made available the video recordings of its February 28 event Protests, Petitions and Publishing: Widening Access to Research in 2012:
How can access to important research and scholarship be available to all, not just "the one percent"? "Protests, Petitions and Publishing: Widening Access to Research in 2012" looks at how Occupy Wall Street, the Research Works Act (RWA), the boycott of Elsevier journals by a growing number of academics, and other recent developments are informing the debate over access to research and scholarship.
The Occupy movement resonated widely on college campuses in America and around the world when it began in Fall 2011 and reinvigorated discussion of socioeconomic inequality and increasing costs associated with higher education. Current debates about scholarly publishing have further echoed these themes. Two bills--the RWA, which seeks to end public-access policies to federally funded research, and the Federal Research Public Access Act, which seeks to expand the reach of these policies--are currently under consideration in Congress. In response, over 6,000 scholars have signed an online petition boycotting the scholarly journals published by the commercial publisher Elsevier, one of the major financial supporters of the sponsors of the RWA. Meanwhile, several societies have begun to address their membership's concerns about publishing practices that may be seen to exclude scholars at all but the most wealthy institutions. Are scholars and publishers finally ready to change the process by which scholarship is distributed?
The speakers bring a variety of perspectives to the issue of access to research.
Allan Adler is Vice President for Legal and Governmental Affairs in the Washington, D.C., headquarters of the Association of American Publishers (AAP), where he deals with intellectual property, freedom of speech, new technology, and other industry-related issues.
Gail Drakes is a doctoral candidate in the Program in American Studies at New York University and Associate Faculty at NYU's Gallatin School of Individualized Study. Her current teaching and research interests explore the ways in which copyright (and other forms of private ownership of information) serve to regulate access to the stories, sounds, and images that shape collective scholarly and public understandings of the past.
Alex Golub is assistant professor of Anthropology at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. His research interests include kinship and identity, resource development, and political anthropology. He is a founder of the popular cultural anthropology blog "Savage Minds."
Oona Schmid is the Director of Publishing at the American Anthropological Association. She is responsible for the daily oversight and long-term planning around a complex publishing program that includes more than 20 specialized anthropological journals.
Peter Woit is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Mathematics at Columbia University and author of the blog "Not Even Wrong."
The sponsors of the Research Works Act, Reps. Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) issued a joint statement declaring that bill was dead in Congress:
The introduction of HR 3699 has spurred a robust, expansive debate on the topics of scientific and scholarly publishing, intellectual property protection, and public access to federally funded research. Since its introduction, we have heard from numerous stakeholders and interested parties on both sides of this important issue.
As the costs of publishing continue to be driven down by new technology, we will continue to see a growth in open access publishers. This new and innovative model appears to be the wave of the future. The transition must be collaborative, and must respect copyright law and the principles of open access. The American people deserve to have access to research for which they have paid. This conversation needs to continue and we have come to the conclusion that the Research Works Act has exhausted the useful role it can play in the debate. As such, we want Americans concerned about access to research and other participants in this debate to know we will not be taking legislative action on HR 3699, the Research Works Act. We do intend to remain involved in efforts to examine and study the protection of intellectual property rights and open access to publicly funded research.
Right before this statement, Elsevier withdrew its support of the bill. That led Peter Suber to declare:
This is a victory for what The Economist called Academic Spring. It shows that academic discontent -- expressed in blogs, social media, conventional media, boycotts, and open letters to Congress -- can defeat legislation supported by a determined and well-funded lobby. Let's remember that, and let's prove that this political force can go beyond defeating bad legislation, like #RWA , to enacting good legislation, like #FRPAA.