telepolis yesterday reported that the Research Works Act was pulled back. The bill has caused a lot of trouble within the Open-Access and Open-Data Community: HR 3699 would have prevented agencies of the federal government from requiring public access to federally subsidized research.
A major supporter of the bill, Elsevier, has withdrawed its support for the Research Works Act – only hours before the the co-sponsors of the bill, Darrell Issa (Republican) and Carolyn Maloney (Democrats) declared the end of the legislation process. It’s interesting (but not surprising) that after Elsevier withdrawed its support, the whole bill was stopped. Someone might think, that this course of action shows the real backers of the bill.
Elsevier was subject to a big campaign against its business policy in the last time: Many thousand scientists declared not to support Elsevier’s journals as a sign of protest against the business practices of the company (eg. exorbitantly high prices for subscriptions) and their supporting for SOPA, PIPA and the Research Works Act.
Even though the withdrawal from supporting RWA does not mark a u-turn of Elsevier’s policy towards Open Access, it still seems as a sign, that the protest in the research community against their business practices has shown impact. We’ll see whether Elsevier and other big players in the scientific publisher’s community are going to search for other ways to act against Open Access mandates. Elsevier stated:
Therefore, while withdrawing support for the Research Works Act, we will continue to join with those many other nonprofit and commercial publishers and scholarly societies that oppose repeated efforts to extend mandates through legislation.
So the first battle ended with a partial victory for the open access movement. But the community might be well advised to have an eye on the future developments and business plans of Elsevier and other commercial publishers.