SPARC Statement on House Committee markup of FIRST Act

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                       Contact:    Ranit Schmelzer
May 22, 2014                                                                                                         202.538.1065
                                                                                                                            sparcmedia@arl.org 

                                                                                                                    
SPARC STATEMENT ON HOUSE COMMITTEE MARKUP OF FIRST ACT
Amendment Passes to Improve Access to Federally Funded Scientific Research

Washington, DC – Following is a statement by Heather Joseph, Executive Director of  the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Research Coalition (SPARC), on the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology markup of H.R. 4186, the Frontiers in Innovation, Research, Science and Technology (FIRST) Act.  

Last night, Representative Lofgren (D-CA) offered an amendment to Section 303 on behalf of herself and Representative Sensenbrenner (R-WI) to replace the current language with the text similar to that of the Public Access to Public Science Act (H.R. 3157). The amendment passed by voice vote.

Specifically, the Sensenbrenner/Lofgren amendment:

    • Creates an embargo period of 12 months, rather than the 24 month embargo period in the original bill;
    • Allows for modification of the embargo period by a maximum of six months if the stakeholders can prove "substantial and unique harm;" and 
    • Requires agencies to submit a report to Congress in 90 days that details their public access policy and implementation of the policy within one year.

“We’re very grateful to Representatives Sensenbrenner and Lofgren for authoring this amendment and to the committee for supporting it,” said Heather Joseph. “The new language fixes a major problem in Section 303 of the bill. Specifically, it reduces the embargo period to 12 months, which puts the U.S. more in line with policies in use around the world, although many countries have shorter embargoes or none at all. The ability to access this information quickly is critical for the U.S. to remain first-in-class in scientific breakthroughs and innovation – as well to spur economic growth and job creation.”

“However, even with this improvement, we strongly encourage federal agencies to implement the White House Directive and we strongly support passage of the bipartisan, bicameral Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act.”

The full committee is expected to vote on moving the FIRST Act to the House floor soon.

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SPARC®, the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition, is an international alliance of academic and research libraries working to correct imbalances in the scholarly publishing system.  Developed by the Association of Research Libraries, SPARC has become a catalyst for change.  Its pragmatic focus is to stimulate the emergence of new scholarly communication models that expand the dissemination of scholarly research and reduce financial pressures on libraries.  More information can be found at www.arl.org/sparc and on Twitter at @SPARC_NA. 

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