Moving FASTR in the US Senate.
FASTR will go to markup tomorrow
in the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee (HSGAC).
Here's a recap of my recent call-to-action post on FASTR, with some new details and background.https://plus.google.com/+PeterSuber/posts/G2uebVhVtBv
FASTR is the strongest bill ever introduced in Congress requiring open access to federally-funded research.
We already have the 2008 NIH policy, but it only covers one agency. We already have the 2013 Obama directive requiring about two dozen federal agencies to adopt OA mandates, but the next President could rescind it.
FASTR would subsume and extend the NIH policy. FASTR would solidify the Obama directive by grounding these agency policies in legislation. Moreover, FASTR would strengthen the NIH policy and Obama directive by requiring reuse rights or open licensing. It has bipartisan support in both the House and the Senate.
FASTR has been introduced in two sessions of Congress (February 2013 and March 2015), and its predecessor, FRPAA (Federal Research Public Access Act), was introduced in three (May 2006, April 2010, February 2012). Neither FASTR nor FRPAA has gotten to the stage of markup and a committee vote. That's why tomorrow's markup is so big.
For the reasons why FASTR is stronger than the Obama directive, see my 2013 article comparing the two.http://dash.harvard.edu/handle/1/10528299
FASTR is stronger than the NIH policy and the Obama directive on reuse rights and open licensing
. Here's why, in an excerpt from the article above:
"In three separate places, FASTR calls for agency policies to permit 'productive reuse' and 'computational analysis by state-of-the-art technologies'. I like the phrase "computational analysis by state-of-the-art technologies" better than 'text-mining'. FASTR makes agency policies evolve to permit new kinds of reuse, not just the kind represented by 'text-mining' circa 2013....The White House directive takes steps in the same direction but doesn't go as far. It encourages 'public-private collaboration to...maximize the potential for...creative reuse to enhance value to all stakeholders'.... 'Creative reuse' is essentially equivalent to FASTR's 'productive reuse'....The snag is that the directive doesn't actually require policies to maximize that potential. Instead it 'encourages' it, and it encourages it through 'public-private collaboration' rather than directly through open-licensing terms....FASTR requires agencies to study 'whether [deposited OA] research papers should include a royalty-free copyright license that is available to the public and that permits the reuse of those research papers, on the condition that attribution is given to the author or authors of the research and any others designated by the copyright owner'....Agencies that don't require CC-BY licenses must essentially explain why, and they must do so every year....That's why I've been telling colleagues that FASTR tacitly recommends CC-BY...."
While the Obama directive was always weaker than FASTR on reuse rights, the Obama White House has approved agency policies that don't even live up to its weaker standard. See my August 2014 criticism of the Department of Energy for not living up to the White House guidelines. The same could be said about every subsequent agency policy elicited by the White House directive. Of course, the real problem lies in fact that the White House abandoned the reuse provision of its own guidelines.https://plus.google.com/+PeterSuber/posts/ZHRXEvLoq4n
As originally written, FASTR was also stronger than the NIH policy and the Obama directive on embargoes
. The NIH policy permits embargoes up to 12 months, and the Obama directive makes 12 months the default. FASTR originally capped embargoes at 6 months for all covered agencies. However, just this week as the bill was approaching markup, Ron Johnson (R-WI) and Tom Carper (D-DE), the HSGAC chairman and ranking member, introduced an amendment allowing embargoes up to 12 months. Tomorrow's markup will deal with the bill as amended.
There's no doubt that this amendment is bad news. It weakens the bill and compromises the public interest.
On the other hand, there's still no doubt that the bill is stronger than the NIH policy and Obama directive, if only for its strong, unambiguous position on reuse rights.
Moreover, if you're willing to measure small differences, FASTR continues to be better on embargoes. Even as amended, FASTR would encourage embargoes shorter than 12 months, allow petitions to shorten embargoes to come from researchers, agency officials, and members of the public, and let the petitions be decided by the agencies. It's a process that favors the public over publishers.
Yesterday SPARC issued a good memo on the nature of the amendment and political circumstances that led to it.http://sparc.arl.org/blog/fastr-be-considered-senate-committee
Publishers lobbied fiercely for this amendment. For my most recent short attempt to answer their arguments, see this January 2014 post. https://plus.google.com/+PeterSuber/posts/gPRFVdDD8Dg
(Another result of publisher lobbying: John McCain withdrew as a co-sponsor of FASTR.)
Finally, let me point out one more benefit of FASTR over the Obama directive. The Obama directive encouraged agencies to coordinate with one another but allowed their policies to differ. The resulting policies do differ, sometimes significantly. I can say from inside a university gearing up to comply with all these policies that their differences threatened to create huge implementation headaches. FASTR will bring these policies much closer to uniformity. If there any US universities that don't care about OA (and I doubt there are), they should still push hard for FASTR to simplify compliance.
Bonus: FASTR will also nip Elsevier's new, long embargoes in the bud, at least for articles arising from federally-funded research.
If FASTR passes, agencies that wrote policies at the weak end of the spectrum allowed by the Obama directive will have to strengthen them. When the Obama White House issued its directive in February 2013, FASTR had already been introduced in both houses of Congress and I urged agencies to keep an eye on it: "What happens if agencies develop policies to satisfy the directive, and then Congress adopts FASTR?...FASTR would add the requirements on which it is stronger than the directive....If agencies were weak on reuse and open licensing, they'd have to strengthen their libre provisions....[T]he prospect of future revision to conform with FASTR, especially after careful coordination and consultation, is a reason for agencies to set policy in light of FASTR in the first place."http://dash.harvard.edu/handle/1/10528299
* For more details on FASTR itself, see my reference page.http://bit.ly/hoap-fastr
* Also see my reference page on FRPAA, the predecessor of FASTR.http://bit.ly/hoap-frpaa
* For steps you can take to support FASTR, see the action pages from the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC).https://action.eff.org/o/9042/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=9061http://www.sparc.arl.org/advocacy/national/fastrPlease urge your Senators to support FASTR, and spread the word.#oa #openaccess #fastr #movefastr