Taxpayer-Funded Research Remains Available — for Now

October 6, 2010

A bill by House Judiciary Chairman John H. Conyers to restrict public access to taxpayer-funded research seems to be dying a quiet death after journalism and open-government groups opposed it.

The Society of Environmental Journalists was one of the groups that expressed opposition to HR 801, which would allow private journal publishers to copyright scientific articles based on federally funded research. The bill was introduced by Conyers, whose committee controls jurisdiction over it, on February 3, 2009. SEJ and three other groups wrote to oppose it on February 26, 2009.

The other groups were the National Association of the Science Writers, the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing, and the World Federation of Science Journalists.

During the subsequent months, the House Judiciary Committee has neither held a hearing nor taken any other action on the bill. With no action by either chamber as the 111th Congress nears its final days, the bill seems highly unlikely to be enacted.