Warner Todd Huston
Dems push another fake 'fair' bill that will kill online science research publishing
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By Warner Todd Huston
March 13, 2009

Why are Democrats such liars? I know that sounds harsh, but this penchant for labeling a law, act, or bill with a lie as a title is gallingly Orwellian and it's getting tiresome. We have the "Employee Free Choice Act" that takes away employee choice, the "Freedom of Choice Act" that takes away the freedom NOT to chose abortion, and now we have the "Fair Copyright in Research Works Act" that takes away the public's fair access to scientific research papers without having to first spend a ton of money to access it.

In all the three laws above noted, we have either "free," "Freedom," or "fair" in the bill title and yet not one of these pieces of legislation is free, fair or assures any freedoms — in fact, quite the opposite. It's like calling a crap sandwich corned beef on rye! It's getting so that all we have to do is read a bill's title and imagine the direct opposite effect to learn what the bill is about.

Naturally it all seems to come down to campaign cash. Michigan's John Conyers (D) is sponsoring this "Fair Copyright in Research Works Act" and not surprisingly when Discover Magazine did a bit of research into where Conyers was getting his campaign contributions, it turned out that he is getting 4 times more contributions from scientific journal publishers than anyone else in Congress. Why is that significant? Read on, McDuff...

Conyers' "The Fair Copyright in Research Works Act" will make it illegal for government agencies like the NIH and other scientists (such as those at universities that take federal money) to put scientific research online for the public to access for free. And guess where Conyers wants to force all research papers to be put? That's right, in journals published by scientific journal publishers. You know, the same ones that gave 4 times more campaign cash to Conyers than they do to everyone else?

Why is this a big deal? Simply put wide access to scientific research spurs more research and helps serve as a sort of quality control agent. Without free access to others' research, scientists might waste time and money on dead ends that others have already mined or replicate needlessly findings already found. Plus, like any other human endeavor, when information grows so does knowledge.

On top of that simple logic, forcing all scientific research into printed journals will also end up limiting the ability of everyone to access scientific research papers because of the exorbitant cost of the journals.

As Discover Magazine writes:

    his may not sound like a big deal, but journals are very expensive. They can cost a fortune: The Astrophysical Journal costs over $2000/year, and they charge scientists to publish in them! So this bill would force scientists to spend money to publish, and force you to spend money to read them.

John Conyers wants to hinder scientific research, quash the public's easy access to research results, and make science even more prohibitively expensive than it already is.

All for a few campaign dollars.

Why are Democrats liars? And why do they hate science?

© Warner Todd Huston

 

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Warner Todd Huston

Warner Todd Huston's thoughtful commentary, sometimes irreverent often historically based, is featured on many websites... (more)

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