Friday, September 12, 2008

Congressional testimony on NIH Public Access repeal effort

The House Judiciary Committee held hearings today on the newly introduced "Fair Copyright and Research Works Act (H.R. 6845)," which is a publisher-promoted effort to repeal the NIH Public Access Policy

Peter Suber's Open Access News discusses the hearings here and here. Karen Rustad at Little Green River has a great post about the hearing. 

I'm still reading and watching the testimony from the good guys: NIH Director Elias Zerhouni and SPARC's Heather Joseph, and the bad guys: GWU Law Professor Ralph Oman and the APS's Marty Frank. I'll have more to say (and if the video is good, maybe some attack ads) later. 

Now I disagree with Marty Frank on almost everything: he's short-sighted, often misleading and places the interests of his journal over the broader scientific good. However, I understand why he was invited to testify - he has become the chief spokesman (some would say apologist) for the anti-open access publishers. 

But I have to say when I saw the list of witnesses, my first reaction was "Who the hell is Ralph Oman?" OK, I'm not a copyright lawyer, and maybe he's well-known in those circles. But as far as I can tell he's never been interested in science publishing. 

So, of course, I googled him. And here's the top hit. A list of campaign contributions he's made. These lists are fascinating. Oman is clearly no Democrat. He gave money to Bill Frist, Henry Hyde and even Katherine Harris when she ran for Congress!! So it's curious that he also gave $500 to John Conyers, head of the House Judiciary Committee who is holding this hearing. Hmm. I wonder why he was invited.... Are our representatives really this cheap?

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