Copyright Alliances welcomes US bill overturning free access to publicly funded research

    “The Copyright Alliance praises U.S. Representatives Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) for their bipartisan introduction of H.R. 3699, the Research Works Act. The proposal would overturn an unprecedented federal government taking of copyrights from certain authors and researchers.

    “Providing a federal grant to fund a research project should not enable the federal government to commandeer and freely distribute a subsequently published private sector peer-reviewed article. But a 2008 mandate at the National Institutes of Health requires just that – disregarding the significant value added by the private-sector publisher whose activities are not funded by the government.

    “This is counterproductive for several reasons: it is not fair to other investors in the research, if there are any; it arbitrarily limits the value of the copyright in the article for the author and publisher, and harms the publisher’s investments in ensuring a quality publication; and, it results in reduced incentives for both these groups to publish peer-reviewed articles explaining the nature and results of government-funded research in a manner that ultimately harms society when the investment in publication dries up due to lack of ability to recover their costs.

    “This reversal of centuries of copyright law occurred withoutinput from the affected communities, and without benefit of oversight by congressional committees with expertise and responsibility for copyright laws and enforcement.

    “This bipartisan bill ensures that privately-funded research works that describe or interpret federal research and are intended for public publishing will receive that treatment, and preserves the rights of research funders and publishers.”


    A congressional mandate at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) forces the surrender of copyrighted scientific journal articles for free public access 12 months after publication. The mandate passed as part of the FY2008 Labor HHS Appropriations Bill, without benefit of any study or input by committees with expertise and oversight on copyright. H.R. 3699 is consistent with the Fair Use in Research Works Act introduced in the 111th Congres.


    The Copyright Alliance is a non-profit, non-partisan public interest and educational organization representing artists and creators across the spectrum of copyright disciplines, including more than 40 trade association, companies and guilds, and 8,000 individual artists and creators. For more information, please visit