About us | About Scoope | Contact us
Scopelogo
 
google

 
  
 Sponsor Links
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Government / Judiciary > Acts / Policies / Regulations
NEWS ARCHIVES ACROSS CATEGORY
  News archives across months
  News archives across themes
    News archives across category
 
  News articles recently covered under
Acts / Policies / Regulations

   
 

SPARC urges Department of Justice to block Cengage, McGraw-Hill merger
- 15 Aug 2019

The Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) has submitted a detailed filing to the U.S. Department of Justice urging federal antitrust enforcers to block the proposed merger between college textbook publishing giants Cengage and McGraw-Hill Education. The merger would create the largest publisher of college course materials in the United States and the world’s second largest education publisher overall.

SPARC’s filing lays out how the merger would violate the Clayton Antitrust Act, creating a combined company that would control 45% of the college textbook market. Along with Pearson, which currently holds approximately 40%, this merger would consolidate the textbook market in the hands of only two players—remaking the market as a duopoly.

The merger has raised alarm bells across the education sector, with opposition also being voiced by student governments and consumer organizations.

The college textbook market is a classic example of a ‘captive market’ where students are required to buy whatever book they have been assigned no matter the cost. In the last two decades, the cost of textbooks has far outpaced inflation, home prices, medical care, and wages. According to the Consumer Price Index, consumer prices for college textbooks have increased 184% since 1998, three times the rate of inflation. More than two-thirds of college campuses consider textbook affordability a major concern.

As textbooks and other course materials transition to digital, the amount of data publishers can collect about the students who use them will grow exponentially—often without students even knowing it. This data can be fed into algorithms that can classify a student’s learning style, assess whether they grasp core concepts, decide whether a student qualifies for extra help, or identify if a student is at risk of dropping out. While some of these uses might be helpful to students, the same data can also be used in negative ways—from mischaracterizing an individual’s abilities to violating privacy rights. Monopolistic activities are a problem when it comes to personal data just as much as traditional markets.

Brought to you by Scope e-Knowledge Center, a trusted global partner for digital content transformation solutions - Abstracting & Indexing (A&I), Knowledge Modeling (Taxonomies, Thesauri and Ontologies), and Metadata Enrichment & Entity Extraction.

Click here

Appeals Court reverses district court’s fair use decision in Cambridge University Press v. J.L. Albert
- 22 Oct 2018

In an opinion released October 19, 2018, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit unanimously reversed the district court's fair use decision in Cambridge University Press v. J.L. Albert and agrees with publishers reversing the GSU litigation involving the unauthorized use of numerous copyrighted works. The appeals court remanded the case to the district court for further proceedings consistent with its instructions.

In reversing the district court's erroneous findings and vacating the award of attorney's fees, the appellate panel for the second time rejected what it called a 'mathematical formula' of fair use in favour of a 'qualitative consideration of each instance of copying in the light of its particular facts.'

This kind of careful scrutiny and detailed application is essential to the efficacy of copyright law, whether in the print or digital environment. As the Supreme Court noted in its landmark Campbell v. Acuff-Rose decision, the four statutory factors may not 'be treated in isolation, one from another. All are to be explored, and the results weighed together, in light of the purposes of copyright.'

Brought to you by Scope e-Knowledge Center, a trusted global partner for digital content transformation solutions - Abstracting & Indexing (A&I), Knowledge Modeling (Taxonomies, Thesauri and Ontologies), and Metadata Enrichment & Entity Extraction.

Click here

LIBER joins call for improved Text and Data Mining Exception
- 02 Apr 2018

Twenty eight organisations, including LIBER, have signed a letter calling for an improved Text and Data Mining Exception which will support research and innovation in Europe.

The letter was sent to the European Parliament Committee on Legal Affairs (JURI). The signatories include universities, technology companies, startups and scaleups, libraries, scientific and research funding and performing organisations, open access publishers, investigative and data journalists and nonprofits.

The growing use of big data and artificial intelligence tools in research and innovation now result from the seamless collaboration between public and private organisations. According to LIBER, this successful ecosystem will be penalised if the European Parliament's work on TDM in the Copyright Directive continues in its current direction.

The letter makes the point that Text and Data Mining plays a key role in Artificial Intelligence. Any comprehensive strategy to make Europe globally competitive in the race to develop and implement AI-powered solutions must therefore include robust support for TDM in both the public and private research industries, and not be reserved for very limited non-commercial public interest research projects.

It also notes that limiting the ability of private companies to carry out TDM in Europe will inevitably lead to the most promising European startups and companies relocating to the US or Japan, where the legal frameworks will allow them to have access to broader datasets, and where they will be able to build algorithms of better quality.

Specifically, the signatories of the letter are asking the JURI Committee to broaden the scope of Article 3.1 to include any person (natural or legal) that has lawful access to content, provided that reproduction or extraction is used for the sole purpose of text and data mining; support the European Commission's proposal on article 3.2 to ensure that contractual terms restricting the use of the exception are unenforceable; clarify in Article 3.3 that technical measures cannot be used to unreasonably restrict the exception's beneficiaries to conduct TDM; and add a paragraph in Article 3 to allow datasets created for the purpose of TDM to be stored on secured servers for future verification.

Brought to you by Scope e-Knowledge Center, a trusted global partner for digital content transformation solutions - Abstracting & Indexing (A&I), Knowledge Modeling (Taxonomies, Thesauri and Ontologies), and Metadata Enrichment & Entity Extraction.

Click here

FTC halts deceptive practices of academic journal publishers
- 28 Nov 2017

A federal court recently granted a preliminary injunction requested by the Federal Trade Commission, temporarily halting the deceptive practices of academic journal publishers charged by the agency with making false claims about their journals and academic conferences, and hiding their publishing fees, which were up to several thousand dollars.

The preliminary injunction against OMICS Group Inc., iMedPub LLC, Conference Series LLC, and their CEO, director, and owner, Srinubabu Gedela stems from a complaint the FTC filed last year that names Gedela and his three companies as defendants.

The defendants operate several websites, including OMICSonline.org, iMedPub.com, and Conferenceseries.com. They advertise hundreds of online academic journals and international conferences for scientists and medical professionals.

According to the complaint, the defendants deceptively claim that their journals provide authors with rigorous peer review and have editorial boards made up of prominent academics when in fact, many articles are published with little to no peer review and many individuals represented to be editors have not agreed to be affiliated with the journals.

The FTC's complaint alleges that the defendants do not tell authors submitting papers for publication that, after their online journals accept an article, the defendants charge the authors significant publishing fees and often do not allow authors to withdraw their articles from submission, making their research ineligible for publication in other journals.

The FTC also alleges that, to promote their scientific conferences, the defendants deceptively use the names of prominent researchers as conference presenters, when in fact many of those researchers had not agreed to participate in the events.

The FTC's complaint charges the defendants with multiple violations of the FTC Act's prohibition on deceptive acts or practices.

The preliminary injunction entered by a federal district court in the District of Nevada prohibits the defendants from making misrepresentations regarding their academic journals and conferences, including that specific persons are editors of their journals or have agreed to participate in their conferences. It also prohibits the defendants from falsely representing that their journals engage in peer review, that their journals are included in any academic journal indexing service, or any measurement of the extent to which their journals are cited. It also requires that the defendants clearly and conspicuously disclose all costs associated with submitting or publishing articles in their journals.

Brought to you by Scope e-Knowledge Center, a trusted global partner for digital content transformation solutions - Abstracting & Indexing (A&I), Knowledge Modeling (Taxonomies, Thesauri and Ontologies), and Metadata Enrichment & Entity Extraction.

Click here

LIBER signs open letter calling for revised Text and Data Mining (TDM) exception
- 26 Sep 2017

Twenty organisations, including LIBER, have signed an open letter to European lawmakers calling for changes to a proposed Text and Data Mining exception.

Coordinated by the European Alliance for Research Excellence, the letter asks Members of the Legal Affairs Committee (JURI) in the European Parliament and Deputy Permanent Representatives of the 28 Member States to fix the Text and Data Mining (TDM) exception in the European Commission's proposal for a Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market.

If the current proposal for a TDM exception is not revised, the vast majority of the European research and innovation ecosystem will be penalised. Scientists and students will have to pay extra licenses, and small businesses and startups who will stop innovating in Europe due to legal uncertainty.

In addition to signing this open letter, LIBER published its own call for changes to the proposed TDM Exception. The four key points to be addressed: make the TDM exception mandatory and non-overridable; include libraries and all persons with lawful access to content as beneficiaries; allow commercial and non-commercial uses, without compensation; and permit safe storage of copies made for TDM.

Brought to you by Scope e-Knowledge Center, a trusted global partner for digital content transformation solutions - Abstracting & Indexing (A&I), Knowledge Modeling (Taxonomies, Thesauri and Ontologies), and Metadata Enrichment & Entity Extraction.

Click here

LIBER signs open letter to stop potentially harmful copyright reform
- 08 Sep 2017

LIBER has signed an open letter directed at the EU’s Legal Affairs Committee (JURI), in an attempt to stop recent EU copyright reform developments which threaten Open Access and Open Science.

In the letter, LIBER and 14 other organisations express particular alarm at the potential impact of Article 11, which relates to Ancillary Copyright, and Article 13, which relates to filtering user-uploaded content, of the draft Directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market.

LIBER is working on many issues related to copyright reform, in order to ensure the best possible outcome for research and knowledge creation.

Article 11 already poses a significant threat to an informed and literate society. Links to news and the use of titles, headlines and fragments of information could now become subject to licensing. Terms could make the last two decades of news less accessible to researchers and the public, leading to a distortion of the public’s knowledge and memory of past events. Art. 11 would furthermore place EU law in contravention with the Berne Convention, whose Art. 2(8) excludes news of the day and ‘mere items of press information’ and ‘press summaries’ from protection. The extension of this controversial proposal to academic publications, as proposed by the ITRE Committee, significantly worsens an already bad situation, the letter reads.

The letter also explains how Article 13 poses a threat to the accessibility of scientific articles, publications and research data made available through over 1250 repositories managed by European non-profit institutions and academic communities.

LIBER, along with all of the letter’s signatories, urges for the removal of these proposals, and also request improvements on proposals related to text and data mining, copyright in an education setting, and preservation and access to works for non-commercial endeavours.

Work on the open letter was led by SPARC Europe, with CESAER, COAR, The Commons Network, Communia Association, Creative Commons, C4C, EBLIDA, EIFL, EUA, Free Knowledge Advocacy Group EU, IFLA, LIBER, RLUK and Science Europe all adding their support.

Brought to you by Scope e-Knowledge Center, a world-leading provider of metadata services, abstraction, indexing, entity extraction and knowledge organisation models (Taxonomies, Thesauri and Ontologies).

Click here

FASTR legislation to ensure permanency of public access to scientific research
- 27 Jul 2017

SPARC, an international alliance of academic and research libraries working to create a more open system of scholarly communication, has applauded the introduction of the Fair Access to Science and Technology Research (FASTR) Act, which would ensure that public access to research articles becomes the law of the land.

FASTR calls for federal agencies with extramural research budgets in excess of $100 million to establish consistent, permanent public access policies for articles reporting on their funded research. This means that articles reporting on the results of taxpayer-funded research would be made available to the general public to freely access and fully use. FASTR would codify the February 22, 2013 White House Directive to provide greater public access to taxpayer-funded research.

FASTR was introduced in the House of Representatives by Kevin Yoder (R-KS-3), Mike Doyle (D-PA-14), and Zoe Lofgren (D- CA-19). The bill represents the next step forward in the competitiveness agenda, spurring both innovation and job creation in broad sectors of the economy, from agriculture and energy to publishing; improves transparency and accountability in government spending; and expands access to taxpayer-funded information while protecting classified research, royalty generating works, and preliminary data.

Calls for free online public access to final peer-reviewed manuscripts or published versions as soon as practicable, but not later than six months after publication in peer-reviewed journals in formats and under terms that enable productive reuse, including computational analysis by state-of-the-art technologies.

Every year, the federal government funds tens of billions of dollars in basic and applied research. Most of this funding is concentrated within 11 departments/agencies (e.g. National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Science Foundation (NSF), Department of Energy) and the research results in a significant number of articles being published each year – approximately 100,000 papers are published annually as a result of NIH funding alone. Because U.S. taxpayers directly fund this research, they have a right to expect that its distribution and use will be maximized, and that they themselves will have access to it.

The government funds research with the expectation that new ideas and discoveries resulting from that research will advance science, stimulate innovation, grow the economy, and improve the lives and welfare of Americans. The Internet makes it possible to advance these goals by providing public online access to federally funded research, and has revolutionized information sharing by enabling prompt sharing of the latest advances with every scientist, physician, educator, entrepreneur and citizen.

Now more than ever, a critical challenge faced by industry today is gaining quick access to research for commercial application, to spur investment in development of new innovative products. Businesses – small and large – need faster access to this information to be competitive in the global marketplace.

In February 2013, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) issued a Directive, that requires the results of taxpayer-funded research – both articles and data – be made freely available to the general public with the goal of accelerating scientific discovery and fueling innovation. While to date, most agencies and departments covered by the Directive have released initial plans (including the Department of Defense, the Department of Energy, the Department of Health and Human Services, and NASA) as is always the case, a Directive is not permanent law, and can be changed. In addition, without the power of law, federal agencies and departments can ignore an executive order – or move so slowly on implementation as to render it essentially useless.

FASTR was first introduced in the 113th Congress. In July 215, the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee unanimously passed S. 779 by voice vote. You can learn more by visiting SPARC's FASTR homepage.

Brought to you by Scope e-Knowledge Center, a world-leading provider of Abstracting & Indexing (A&I) Services, Knowledge Modeling Services (Taxonomies, Thesauri and Ontologies), Metadata Enrichment & Entity Extraction Services.

Click here

Chinese researchers responsible for ‘fake peer review’ scandals, says study
- 10 Nov 2016

The BMJ-run Postgraduate Medical Journal published a study, according to which, efforts by China’s government and scientific bodies to root out academic misconduct and encourage publishing ethics may help to remedy the problem. The study, titled, Characteristics of retractions related to fake peer reviews, published in the September issue, further notes that pressure to publish scientific papers at Chinese universities may explain why more researchers are creating fake peer reviewers to assess their work.

Researchers, after analysing the growing number of retractions resulting from ‘faked peer reviews’, found that closely three-quarters of articles pulled from academic journals over the past four years came from China-based researchers.

Manufacturing a fake peer review and reviewer may seem like a highly complex form of academic fraud, but it is relatively easy to do, as researchers are often asked by journals to recommend a preferred reviewer, explains the study.

Editors of low-impact journals, where the offending articles were published, were often unable to check the credentials of those recommended peer reviewers or find suitably qualified alternatives, says the paper by Xingshu Qi, Han Deng and Xiaozhong Guo, researchers based at the General Hospital of Shenyang Military Area, in northeast China.

Publishers of higher-impact journals were less likely to fall for fake peer review scams to their larger pool of trusted reviewers, the paper adds.

While the fake peer review remained a relatively rare occurrence – just 250 retractions were identified by the Retraction Watch website between 2012 and 2015 – the number of retractions peaked in 2015, up from about 40 in 2012 to almost 160 in 2015.

With the largest number of retractions for fake peer review-related retractions coming from China, the authors speculate that the ‘current national conditions’ in which ‘the Chinese government has provided researchers greater levels of funding and awards for conducting scientific research’ may have contributed to the ‘unexpected phenomenon’.

According to the paper, researchers are more eager to publish, but they are less aware of publishing ethics. Greater efforts by China’s government and scientific bodies to root out academic misconduct and encourage publishing ethics may help to remedy the problem, the study says.

Academic journal publishers had started to recognise the ‘potential flaws in the peer-review system’, with some abandoning the practice of recommended peer reviewers, as a result of the media exposure of such retractions, the paper adds.

The paper concludes that ‘retractions due to faked peer reviews have been increasingly recognised by journal editors and [such misconduct] will disappear in future.”

Brought to you by Scope e-Knowledge Center, a world-leading provider of metadata services, abstraction, indexing, entity extraction and knowledge organisation models (Taxonomies, Thesauri and Ontologies).

Click here

FTC sues academic journal publisher OMICS Group for deceptive practices
- 31 Aug 2016

The Federal Trade Commission has charged academic journal publisher OMICS Group of hundreds of purported online academic journals with deceiving academics and researchers about the nature of its publications and hiding publication fees ranging from hundreds to thousands of dollars.

The FTC's complaint alleges that OMICS Group, Inc., along with two affiliated companies and their president and director, Srinubabu Gedela, claim that their journals follow rigorous peer-review practices and have editorial boards made up of prominent academics. In reality, many articles are published with little to no peer review and numerous individuals represented to be editors have not agreed to be affiliated with the journals.

According to the FTC's complaint, OMICS does not tell researchers that they must pay significant publishing fees until after it has accepted an article for publication, and often will not allow researchers to withdraw their articles from submission, thereby making the research ineligible for publication in another journal. Academic ethics standards generally forbid researchers from submitting the same research to more than one journal.

Among the deceptive statements OMICS made to researchers, according to the complaint, were descriptions of its journals as having a high 'impact factor,' a term that describes approximately how frequently articles in a particular journal are cited in other research. Thomson Reuters' proprietary measure of journals' impact factors is the widely accepted standard, but OMICS allegedly calculated its own impact scores and did not clearly disclose that fact to consumers.

The defendants also tell researchers that their journals are indexed by federal research databases, including the National Institutes of Health's PubMed and MEDLINE services, when in fact that is not true, according to the complaint.

In addition to misrepresentations related to their journal publishing services, the FTC's complaint alleges that the defendants regularly deceive consumers while promoting academic conferences they organise. The defendants allegedly include the names of prominent researchers as participants and presenters at the conferences, which charge registration fees that can cost more than $1,000, when in fact many of those researchers often did not agree to participate in the events.

The FTC's complaint charges the defendants, OMICS Group Inc., iMedPub LLC, Conference Series LLC, and Srinubabu Gedela, with multiple violations of the FTC Act's prohibition on deceptive acts or practices.

The Commission vote authorizing the staff to file the complaint was 3-0. The complaint was filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada.

Brought to you by Scope e-Knowledge Center, a world-leading provider of metadata services, abstraction, indexing, entity extraction and knowledge organisation models (Taxonomies, Thesauri and Ontologies).

Click here

Publishers appeal GSU copyright case
- 30 Aug 2016

The publisher plaintiffs in Cambridge University Press vs. Patton (known commonly as the GSU e-reserves case) have again appealed the case following their second district court loss in eight years of litigation.

In an August 26 notice of filing, the publishers confirmed that they will ask the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit in Atlanta to review Judge Orinda Evans' March 30 verdict against them, as well as 'all prior orders and rulings' in the closely watched copyright case, which involves the use of digitised course readings, known as e-reserves, common on college campuses.

The appeal follows after Evans issued her final order in the case on July 27.

First filed in April 2008, by three academic publishers - Oxford University Press, Cambridge University Press, and Sage Publications - with costs paid by the AAP and the Copyright Clearance Center, the suit alleges that Georgia State University administrators systematically encouraged faculty to offer students unlicensed, infringing copies of digitised readings as a no-cost alternative to traditionally licensed coursepacks.

President and CEO of the AAP, Tom Allen, has called the suit a 'test case' that will 'inform the application of fair use' in the academic setting.

After years of legal wrangling, Evans first ruled for GSU in 2012, holding that GSU's copying was protected by fair use in all but five of 48 infringement claims presented at trial. The publishers appealed, and in October 2014, a three-judge panel of the 11th Circuit unanimously reversed and remanded the case to Evans, with instructions to rebalance her four-factor fair use test.

Observers, however, noted that despite reversing, the 11th Circuit's written opinion affirmed much of Evans' handling of the case. Indeed, the publishers even undertook the unusual step of petitioning the 11th Circuit for a full "en banc" review of their unanimous victory—which was denied.

Most recently, in her March 30 remand decision, Evans found only four cases of infringement—fewer than in her first ruling. Furthermore, in her July 27 final order, she rejected a number of publisher motions, including the publishers' proposal for injunctive relief, and affirmed that the publishers must pay GSU's legal fees.

Although the final amount of that fee award has not yet been determined (and that determination will likely now be delayed by the appeal), GSU attorneys have has asked the court to order the publishers to reimburse them for more than $3.3 million in fees and costs.

Brought to you by Scope e-Knowledge Center, a world-leading provider of metadata services, abstraction, indexing, entity extraction and knowledge organisation models (Taxonomies, Thesauri and Ontologies).

Click here

Apple to begin paying $400 million to consumers in price-fixing settlement
- 22 Jun 2016

Beginning June 21, 2016, millions of e-book purchasers will receive credits and checks for twice their losses following an antitrust lawsuit filed against Apple Inc. and five of the nation’s largest publishing companies for their roles in an alleged e-book price-fixing scheme, according to Hagens Berman, a consumer-rights class-action law firm.

Attorneys say the process is uniquely simple for consumers – credits will be automatically sent directly into the accounts of consumers at major book retailers, including Amazon.com Inc., Barnes & Noble Inc., Kobo Inc. and Apple. Retailers will issue emails and put the credits in the accounts simultaneously.

If e-book purchasers requested a check in lieu of a credit, they will receive a check. If purchasers received a credit during the first round of distribution of publisher settlements, and they did not opt out, they will automatically receive a credit.

The combined $400 million that will go to consumers follows the final stage in the lawsuit in which the Supreme Court denied appeal from Apple, bringing the consumer payback amount to more than twice the amount of losses suffered by the class of e-book purchasers. This represents one of the most successful recovery of damages in any antitrust lawsuit in the country.

Attorneys calculated damages based on the books purchased and worked cooperatively with retailers to calculate the award for each class member.

The class of consumers alleged that Apple illegally colluded with a group of five publishing companies to manipulate the e-book market by artificially raising the price of e-books, lowering competition and charging consumers higher prices. According to attorneys, the anticompetitive price-fixing collusion between Apple and the publishers caused the price of e-books to increase 30 to 50 percent to $12.99 or $14.99 from Amazon's $9.99 price.

Hagens Berman litigated the case jointly with the United States Department of Justice and attorneys general from 33 U.S. states and territories.

Brought to you by Scope e-Knowledge Center, a world-leading provider of metadata services, abstraction, indexing, entity extraction and knowledge organisation models (Taxonomies, Thesauri and Ontologies).

Click here

The UK Government commissions Tech Partnership to create standards for basic digital skills
- 13 Jun 2016

The Tech Partnership has been asked by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to define the standards for basic digital skills – the skills that everyone needs for life in a digitally-enabled world; for getting into employment; and for success in the world of work.

Recognising the need for a universally accepted baseline in this area, the Government has commissioned the Partnership to produce a set of standards that clearly describe the entry level digital skills required by business and industry. The Partnership is creating these standards with input from Doteveryone and the Tinder Foundation, drawing on their substantial experience in this area. The work takes forward a recommendation from a recent government commissioned review of publicly funded digital skills qualifications.

The standards will then be publicly available to form the basis for all kinds of digital skills development activities: for individuals, they will help to establish the most important basic skills to develop as they move into employment, while training providers can use them to create learning plans and qualifications that will have a real impact on jobseekers' prospects. In the workplace, the standards will provide a framework for skills development that reflects the growth of digital across virtually every job role, and will support the digital transformation of the workplace.

In a pioneering move, the draft standards break the required skills down into two broad categories: basic technical skills, which include managing information, exploiting technology and increasing productivity; and behavioural skills, including critical thinking, teamwork and business awareness. Both categories are centred on safety and security, reflecting the needs of a cyber-aware world.

The draft standards are now out for consultation with employers, educators and other stakeholders. Anyone with an interest in digital skills is urged to make their voice heard: the draft can be downloaded and comments can be submitted via an online survey.

Brought to you by Scope e-Knowledge Center, a world-leading provider of metadata services, abstraction, indexing, entity extraction and knowledge organisation models (Taxonomies, Thesauri and Ontologies).

Click here

All European scientific articles to be freely accessible by 2020
- 31 May 2016

All scientific articles in Europe must be freely accessible as of 2020. EU member states are looking to to achieve optimal reuse of research data. They are also looking for European visa for foreign start-up founders.

According to the new Innovation Principle, new European legislation must take account of its impact on innovation. These are the main outcomes of the meeting of the Competitiveness Council in Brussels on May 27.

Under the presidency of Netherlands State Secretary for Education, Culture and Science, Sander Dekker, the EU ministers responsible for research and innovation decided unanimously to take these significant steps.

Open access means that scientific publications on the results of research supported by public and public-private funds must be freely accessible to everyone. That is not yet the case. The results of publicly funded research are currently not accessible to people outside universities and knowledge institutions. As a result, teachers, doctors and entrepreneurs do not have access to the latest scientific insights that are so relevant to their work, and universities have to take out expensive subscriptions with publishers to gain access to publications.

From 2020, all scientific publications on the results of publicly funded research must be freely available. It also must be able to optimally reuse research data. To achieve that, the data must be made accessible, unless there are well-founded reasons for not doing so, for example intellectual property rights or security or privacy issues.

Brought to you by Scope e-Knowledge Center, a world-leading provider of metadata services, abstraction, indexing, entity extraction and knowledge organisation models (Taxonomies, Thesauri and Ontologies).

Click here

European Union launches new European Medical Corps to respond faster to emergencies
- 16 Feb 2016

The European Union has launched the European Medical Corps to help mobilise medical and public health teams and equipment for emergencies inside and outside the EU.

Through the European Medical Corps, EU Member States and other European countries participating in the system can make medical teams and assets available for rapid deployment before an emergency strikes – thus ensuring a faster and more predictable response. The medical corps could include emergency medical teams, public health and medical coordination experts, mobile biosafety laboratories, medical evacuation planes and logistical support teams.

The framework for the European Medical Corps is part of the EU Civil Protection Mechanism's new European Emergency Response Capacity (otherwise known as the 'voluntary pool'). So far Belgium, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Luxembourg, Germany, Spain, Sweden and the Netherlands have already committed teams and equipment to the voluntary pool.

A key difficulty during the Ebola virus outbreak response was the quick deployment of medical staff, as well as the logistical and management challenges which increased as a result. This led Germany and France in late 2014 to propose the "White Helmets" initiative, which laid the foundations. The European Medical Corps is now part of the European Emergency Response Capacity.

The EU Civil Protection Mechanism facilitates cooperation in disaster response among 33 European states (28 EU Member States, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Iceland, Montenegro, Norway and Serbia). Turkey is also in the process of joining the Mechanism. These participating states pool the resources that can be made available to disaster-stricken countries all over the world. When activated, the Mechanism coordinates the provision of assistance inside and outside the European Union. The European Commission manages the Mechanism through the Emergency Response Coordination Centre.

In an effort to step up the EU's preparedness and response to disasters, the European Emergency Response Capacity ('voluntary pool') was created in 2014, bringing together a range of pre-committed relief teams and equipment, for deployment in emergency response operations all over the world.

The European Medical Corps will also be Europe's contribution to the Global Health Emergency Workforce being set up under the helm of the World Health Organisation.

Brought to you by Scope e-Knowledge Center, a world-leading provider of abstraction, indexing, entity extraction and knowledge organisation models (Taxonomies, Thesauri and Ontologies).

Click here

SPARC applauds introduction of the Affordable College Textbook Act of 2015
- 12 Oct 2015

SPARC, an international alliance of academic and research libraries working to broaden access to academic knowledge, has applauded the introduction of the Affordable College Textbook Act of 2015, which would reduce the cost of college textbooks by expanding the use of open educational resources. The bill was introduced by Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL), Al Franken (D-MN) and Angus King (I-ME) and Representatives Rubén Hinojosa (D-TX) and Jared Polis (D-CO).

Open educational resources (OER) are free, openly-licensed academic materials that everyone can use, adapt and share.

The cost of textbooks has emerged as a significant piece of the college affordability and access debate. Textbook prices increased 82% between 2002 and 2012, and the average student budget for books and supplies is more than $1,200 per year. A recent report by NBC found that textbook prices have risen over three times the rate of inflation from January 1977 to June 2015, a 1,041 percent increase. Despite the vast potential for technology and the internet to solve this problem, many e-textbooks and other digital materials from traditional publishers actively restrict much of this potential and perpetuate high costs.

Open educational resources are gaining traction as an alternative to costly textbooks. Hundreds of campuses across the country are already leveraging OER to increase access to course materials and reduce costs for students. The Maricopa Community College district in Arizona has saved students more than $4.5 million through faculty adoption of open textbooks. The University of Maryland University College recently became the first major U.S. institution to replace all textbooks in undergraduate courses with free online resources.

Numerous studies have documented that the use of OER can significantly reduce student costs while maintaining or improving academic success. A new multi-institution study published this month by researchers at Brigham Young University provides the most compelling case yet: students in more than half of the courses using OER did better than their peers in at least one measure of academic success, and the vast majority of courses performed at least as well.

The Affordable College and Textbook Act directs the Department of Education to create a competitive grant program for higher education institutions (or groups of higher education institutions) to establish pilot programs that use open educational resources to reduce textbook costs. Pilot programs may focus on using existing OER, creating or improving new OER, or conducting efficacy research – or any combination thereof, so long as the end result is student savings.

Any educational materials developed or improved through the program will be posted online and licensed as open educational resources so that everyone – including other colleges, students and faculty – can freely use these materials. The bill contains a strong definition of an open license that is equivalent to the Creative Commons Attribution license, which permits full reuse rights on the condition of author attribution. This license would ensure the public gains the maximum benefit of the materials created through the grant program.

Brought to you by Scope e-Knowledge Center, a world-leading provider of abstraction, indexing, entity extraction and knowledge organisation models (Taxonomies, Thesauri and Ontologies).

Click here

European consortium develops new approaches for dealing with Big Data
- 17 Aug 2015

The new BigStorage project, funded by the European Union, will develop new approaches to deal with Big Data concepts over the next three years, from theoretical basic research to the development of complex infrastructures and software packages. As an Innovative Training Network (ITN) of the European Union, it also plays an important role in the training of researchers and developers in the international context. The various tasks are being addressed by a European consortium of research teams and industrial partners. The work being undertaken at the Data Center at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz (JGU) will focus on the impact of new storage technologies as well as the convergence of high-performance computing and Big Data.

Big Data is a major factor driving knowledge discovery and innovation in our information society. However, large amounts of data can only be used efficiently if algorithms for understanding the data are available and if these algorithms can also be appropriately applied in highly scalable systems with thousands of hard drives. Big Data thus presents complex challenges for software developers, as the necessary algorithms can only be created with the aid of specialist skills in a wide range of different fields, such as statistics, machine learning, visualization, databases, and high-performance computing.

The EU is providing EUR 3.8 million to finance the BigStorage project as part of the Horizon 2020 EU Framework Program for Research and Innovation. In addition to JGU, also involved in the project are the Technical University of Madrid and the Barcelona Supercomputing Center in Spain, the French National Institute for Computer Science and Applied Mathematics (Inria), the Foundation for Research and Technology in Greece, Seagate Systems in the UK, the German Climate Computing Center, CA Technologies Development in Spain, the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA), and Fujitsu Technology Solutions GmbH.

Brought to you by Scope e-Knowledge Center, a world-leading provider of abstraction, indexing, entity extraction and knowledge organisation models (Taxonomies, Thesauri and Ontologies).

Click here

SPARC joins broad coalition in urging Administration to open up access to federally funded educational resources
- 05 Aug 2015

The Scholarly Publishing & Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC), along with a broad coalition of more than 85 education, library, technology, public interest, and legal organisations, called on the White House to take administrative action to ensure federally funded educational materials are made available as Open Educational Resources (OER) that are free to use, share, and improve.

The call comes in response to the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy's (OSTP) request for ideas to strengthen the U.S. Open Government National Action Plan, which is currently under development. The executive action envisioned by the coalition would build upon the Administration's strong leadership in advancing public access to publicly funded resources with a strong Executive Branch-wide policy for the open licensing of educational, training, and instructional materials created with federal funds.

The coalition has outlined five core principles for Administration policy on this issue: Adopt a broad definition of educational materials; Provide free access via the Internet; Create conditions for resources that enable reuse; Require prompt implementation; and Regular reporting of progress and results.

The Federal Government currently invests billions of taxpayer dollars each year in programs that include the creation of educational, training, and instructional materials through grants, contracts, and other cooperative agreements. This investment produces educational resources ranging from innovative curricular resources to workforce training materials to English language learning tools. While these materials are created for the public good, they are generally not open to the members of the public who paid for them. At a time when educational opportunity, workforce development and access to knowledge are critical to America's future, these valuable publicly-funded resources should be openly available to students, teachers, businesses, workers and the public to use in new and innovative ways.

The availability of publicly funded educational and training materials could address key challenges facing educational and job training systems. Currently, student outcomes suffer as school districts struggle to provide up-to-date textbooks, and require students to share books and materials. In higher education, where textbook costs are borne directly by students, the rapid rise in prices too often forces students to skip required materials, alter their course of study, or even drop out because it is the straw that breaks the camel's back. This burden is particularly significant for community college students, where textbook costs comprise a larger portion of overall expenses. Ensuring that educational materials that taxpayers have already paid for are available for free could directly expand educational opportunities.

In issuing this statement, this coalition hopes to ensure that educational materials arising from programs funded with billions of taxpayer dollars are freely open to the members of the public that invested in them. The Administration has both an educational and economic imperative to increase access to learning and workforce development opportunities. Further, it has the opportunity to spur innovation through opening access to a wealth of resources that can be improved and built upon.

Members of the public can join the call for opening up taxpayer funded educational materials by tweeting with hashtag #OERUSA. A copy of the coalition letter is available here.

Click here

SPARC applauds Senate Committee action on public access legislation
- 30 Jul 2015

The Senate Homeland Security & Governmental Affairs Committee (HSGAC) has passed S. 779, the Fair Access to Science and Technology Research (FASTR) Act, unanimously by voice vote and moved it to the full Senate for consideration. This marks the first time the Senate has acted on a government-wide policy ensuring public access to the results of publicly funded research, and is an important step towards codifying the progress made by the 2013 White House OSTP Directive.

FASTR calls for federal agencies with extramural research budgets in excess of $100 million to establish consistent, permanent public access policies for articles reporting on their funded research making articles freely available to the public no later than twelve months after publication – and preferably sooner.

According to Heather Joseph, Executive Director of the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC), SPARC is encouraged by this bipartisan action by the Senate Homeland Security Committee, which signals strong support for the principle of public access to taxpayer funded research. The ultimate passage of FASTR will ensure a stable path for greater innovation and economic growth by opening up access to publicly funded research, regardless of the position any given Administration.

FASTR represents the next step forward in the competitiveness agenda, while protecting classified research and royalty generating works. It harnesses the Internet allowing us to take advantage of the digital environment to disseminate the results of publicly funded research.

Every year, the federal government funds tens of billions of dollars in basic and applied research. Most of this funding is concentrated within 11 departments/agencies (e.g. National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Science Foundation (NSF), Department of Energy) and the research results in a significant number of articles being published each year – approximately 100,000 papers are published annually as a result of NIH funding alone. Because U.S. taxpayers directly fund this research, they have a right to expect that its distribution and use will be maximized, and that they themselves will have access to it.

The government funds research with the expectation that new ideas and discoveries resulting from that research will advance science, stimulate innovation, grow the economy, and improve the lives and welfare of Americans. The Internet makes it possible to advance these goals by providing public online access to federally funded research, and has revolutionized information sharing by enabling prompt sharing of the latest advances with every scientist, physician, educator, entrepreneur and citizen.

One of the critical challenges faced by industry today is gaining quick access to research for commercial application, to spur investment in development of new innovative products. Businesses – small and large – need faster access to this information to be competitive in the global marketplace.

In February 2013, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) issued a Directive, that requires the results of taxpayer-funded research – both articles and data – be made freely available to the general public with the goal of accelerating scientific discovery and fuelling innovation. To date, 13 agencies and departments have released their initial plans. However, the OSTP Directive can be overturned by a subsequent Administration.

Click here

Ukrainian authors and writers criticise new state open access initiative
- 29 Jul 2015

Ukrainian writers and authors are reportedly on the verge of massive protests, due to a recent initiative of the Ukrainian Parliament (Verkhovna Rada) to conduct digitalisation and online publishing of all of the books and documents stored in the national archives and libraries.

According to an official spokesman of Vladimir Groisman, head of Verkhovna Rada, the initiative is very useful as it will provide free access to local population to the Ukrainian national libraries and books.

It is planned that the new state initiative may be approved in the form of amendments to the existing law, which is known as 'On Copyright and Related Rights'.

In the meantime, the new state initiative has already been criticised by some leading Ukrainian authors and writers, who say its approval will result in huge losses to them and copyright infringement.

According to Alexandra Odinetsk, a well-known Ukrainian lawyer for copyright and related rights, online publishing of books without the consent of the author is prohibited by the current Ukrainian legislation and can be contested in the court. The same position is shared by the Ukrainian writers.

In addition to Ukrainian writers and public, it is expected that the initiative will be sharply criticized by the European Union, as it will be seen as not complying with EU legislation in the field of copyright.

Ukraine recently signed an agreement 'About the Association' with the EU. It is a base agreement, but imposes obligations on Ukraine not to approve laws which directly contradict basic EU principles and norms.

Some Ukrainian writers have already announced their plan to submit a petition to the European Commission, asking to take measures for the blocking of the new proposal by the Ukrainian government and the national Parliament.

Meanwhile, according to Alexander Brigints, member of Verkhovna Rada and a well-known Ukrainian writer, the Ukrainian Parliament and the national government are aware of the protests of the writer community, and are considering several options out of the current situation.

The state plans may include the provision of compensation to authors and writers whose books will be subject to online publishing and digitalisation. It is planned that this compensation may be in the form of royalties to authors. Another option may involve publishing of books only on paid online resources.

Finally, the government has not ruled out the possibility of digitalisation of only those books whose copyright has already expired or is not applied. It is planned that a final decision on the new state initiative will be taken by the Ukrainian government in mid-September.

Click here

Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee to bring FASTR Act up for mark-up on July 29
- 28 Jul 2015

After a month of intense conversations and negotiations, the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee (HSGAC) will bring the 'Fair Access to Science and Technology Research (FASTR) Act' up for mark-up on July 29, 2015. The language that will be considered is an amended version of FASTR, officially known as the 'Johnson-Carper Substitute Amendment,' which was officially filed by the HSGAC leadership late on July 24, 2015, per committee rules.

There are two major changes from the original bill language to be particularly aware of. Specifically, the amendment replaces the six month embargo period with 'no later than 12 months, but preferably sooner,' as anticipated; and provides a mechanism for stakeholders to petition federal agencies to 'adjust' the embargo period if the12 months does not serve 'the public, industries, and the scientific community.'

The language requiring a GOA analysis of the desirability of all agencies adopting CC-BY license remains intact, as does the language directing the agencies to control the ultimate location of their funded articles.

Click here

ARL joins 252 groups, 10 business leaders in a call to action for American ‘Innovation Imperative’
- 24 Jun 2015

The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) has joined scores of other organizations as well as leaders of American business, industry, higher education, science, and engineering in an urgent call to action for stronger federal policies and investment to drive domestic research and development. The move follows the American Academy of Arts & Sciences (AAAS) report Restoring the Foundation: The Vital Role of Research in Preserving the American Dream.

Ten CEOs and 252 organisations, including ARL, signed 'Innovation: An American Imperative', a document aimed at federal decision makers and legislators. The document underscores the findings—and warnings—contained in the AAAS report.

According to the report, there is a deficit between what America is investing and what it should be investing to remain competitive, not only in research but in innovation and job creation. The United States is failing to keep pace with competitor nations with regard to investments in basic research and development. America's ascendency in the 20th century was due in large part—if not primarily—to its investments in science and engineering research. Basic research is behind every new product brought to market, every new medical device or drug, every new defence and space technology and many innovative business practices.

Over the last two decades, a steady decline in investment in research and development (R&D) in the United States has allowed the nation to fall to 10th place in R&D investment among Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) nations as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP).

At this pace, China will surpass the United States in R&D intensity in about eight years.

These developments led a diverse coalition of those concerned with the future of research in America to join together in presenting the innovation imperative to federal policy makers and urging them to take action to end sequestration’s deep cuts to federal investments in R&D; make permanent a strengthened federal R&D tax credit; improve student achievement in science, technology, engineering, mathematics (STEM); reform US visa policy; streamline or eliminate costly and inefficient regulations; reaffirm merit-based peer review; and stimulate further improvements in advanced manufacturing.

Details on these action items, as well as a complete list of signatories, are included in the full document, 'Innovation: An American Imperative', which is also posted on the websites of each of the organisations coordinating this effort. These include American Academy of Arts & Sciences, American Association for the Advancement of Science, American Association of Universities, Association of Public and Land-grant Universities, Battelle, Coalition for National Science Funding, Coalition for National Security Research, Council on Competitiveness, Energy Sciences Coalition, Task Force on American Innovation and The Science Coalition, among others.

Click here

European Commission opens formal antitrust investigation into Amazon's e-book distribution arrangements
- 16 Jun 2015

The European Commission has opened a formal antitrust investigation into certain business practices by Amazon in the distribution of electronic books ("e-books"). The Commission will in particular investigate certain clauses included in Amazon's contracts with publishers. These clauses require publishers to inform Amazon about more favourable or alternative terms offered to Amazon's competitors and/or offer Amazon similar terms and conditions than to its competitors, or through other means ensure that Amazon is offered terms at least as good as those for its competitors.

The Commission has concerns that such clauses may make it more difficult for other e-book distributors to compete with Amazon by developing new and innovative products and services. The Commission will investigate whether such clauses may limit competition between different e-book distributors and may reduce choice for consumers. If confirmed, such behaviour could violate EU antitrust rules that prohibit abuses of a dominant market position and restrictive business practices. The opening of proceedings does not prejudge in any way the outcome of the investigation.

E-books have experienced a surge in popularity in recent years and are of increasing importance to online retail. Amazon is currently the largest distributor of e-books in Europe. Initially, the Commission's investigation will focus on the largest markets for e-books in the European Economic Area, namely e-books in English and German.

The Commission has concerns that certain clauses included in Amazon's contracts with publishers concerning such e-books could constitute a breach of EU antitrust rules that prohibit the abuse of a dominant market position and restrictive business practices. In particular, the investigation is focused on clauses which seem to shield Amazon from competition from other e-book distributors, such as clauses granting it the right to be informed of more favourable or alternative terms offered to its competitors; and/or the right to terms and conditions at least as good as those offered to its competitors.

The Commission will now investigate further whether such clauses may hinder the level playing field and potentially decrease competition between different e-book distributors to the detriment of consumers.

This is not the first time the European Commission is investigating the e-books sector under EU antitrust rules. In December 2011 the Commission opened proceedings in the sector because it had concerns that Apple and five international publishing houses may have colluded to limit retail price competition for e-books in the EEA, in breach of EU antitrust rules. In December 2012 and July 2013, respectively, the companies offered a number of commitments, which addressed the Commission's concerns.

The Commission has informed Amazon and the competition authorities of the Member States that it has opened proceedings in this case.

There is no legal deadline to complete inquiries into anti-competitive conduct. The duration of an antitrust investigation depends on a number of factors, including the complexity of the case, the extent to which the undertaking concerned cooperates with the Commission and the exercise of the rights of defence.

Click here

ARL publishes issue brief on the US Copyright Office’s Report on Orphan Works
- 15 Jun 2015

The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) has published an issue brief on the US Copyright Office's June 4, 2015, Report on Orphan Works and Mass Digitization, which includes recommendations for legislation on orphan works - copyrighted works whose owners are impossible to identify or contact - and the creation of an extended collective licensing (ECL) regime for mass digitisation. ARL's 'Issue Brief: Copyright Office Report on Orphan Works' focuses only on the Copyright Office's recommendations regarding orphan works.

The Copyright Office's report asserts that the orphan works problem is widespread and significant' and that 'anyone using an orphan work does so under a legal cloud, as there is always the possibility that the copyright owner could emerge after the use commenced and seek substantial infringement damages, an injunction, and/or attorneys' fees. The Copyright Office rejects the idea that fair use can provide an adequate solution because 'the judiciary has yet to explicitly address how to apply fair use to orphan works. Also, fair use jurisprudence is, because of its flexibility and fact-specific nature, a less concrete foundation for the beneficial use of orphan works than legislation, and is always subject to change.' The Copyright Office also rejects the role of best practices in an orphan works solution because they 'often are arrived at absent consultation with authors and other copyright owners, and therefore run the risk of being more of an aspirational document—what a community believes fair use ought to be—than a descriptive one.'

The Copyright Office's denigration of fair use as a solution to the orphan works problem is disappointing. What the Copyright Office fails to acknowledge in its analysis of recent fair use jurisprudence is that fair use is a fairly predictable doctrine. With respect to community best practices, it is true that they are made without consultation with rightsholders, but this is a conscious decision. Community best practices "arise from the community's values and mission...not a compromise between those values and the competing interests of other parties." Furthermore, these best practice documents are grounded in community practices, often supported by case law, not merely aspirational documents.

As an alternative, the Copyright Office proposes a model that provides for limitations on liability—draft legislation that is largely based on the Shawn Bentley Orphan Works Act of 2008, which was passed by the Senate, but failed in the House of Representatives. The Copyright Office fails to recognise that its proposed burdensome legislation that requires extremely time- and resource-intensive searches as well as "notice of use" requirements could cause users to forego the use of orphan works. Finally, the notice of use provision is as poisonous now as it was in 2008. If it is included in an orphan works provision, it will ensure that the provision is rarely, if ever, used.

The full "Issue Brief: Copyright Office Report on Orphan Works" is available online at http://www.arl.org/storage/documents/IssueBrief-OrphanWorks-5JUNE2015.pdf.

Click here

U.S. Senate confirms Willie E. May as 15th director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology
- 06 May 2015

On May 4, 2015, the U.S. Senate confirmed Willie E. May as the second Under Secretary of Commerce for Standards and Technology and the 15th director of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

May has been serving as acting director since June 2014. He has worked at NIST since 1971, leading research activities in chemical and biological measurement science activities prior to serving as associate director for laboratory programs and principal deputy to the NIST director.

In addition to his responsibilities at NIST, May also serves as the vice president of the International Committee on Weights and Measures (CIPM) and president of the CIPM's Consultative Committee on Metrology in Chemistry and Biology. Before joining NIST (then the National Bureau of Standards), May worked as a senior analyst at the Oak Ridge Gaseous Diffusion Plant. At NIST, his research has focused on trace organic analytical measurement science, the physical and chemical properties of organic compounds and liquid chromatography, which is used to identify the components in a mixture.

Among many other awards and honors, May was elected a Fellow of the American Chemical Society in 2011. He has been recognized with the Department of Commerce's Bronze (1981), Silver (1985) and Gold (1992) medals. The National Organization for the Professional Advancement of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers (NOBCChE) has recognized him with both the Percy Julian Award for outstanding research in organic analytical chemistry and the Henry Hill Award for exemplary work and leadership in the field of chemistry. May received the 2007 Alumnus of the Year Award from the College of Chemical and Life Sciences at the University of Maryland, and in 2010 he was among the first class of inductees into the Knoxville College Alumni Hall of Fame. He was the keynote speaker for the 2002 winter commencement ceremonies for the University of Maryland's College of Life Sciences, and for Wake Forest University's Graduate School of Arts and Sciences commencement exercises in 2012.

Click here

ARL joins new Re:Create coalition to promote balanced copyright
- 29 Apr 2015

ARL joined US technology companies, trade associations, and civil society organisations in the launch of Re:Create, a coalition that promotes balanced copyright policy. A balanced copyright system depends on limitations and exceptions, such as fair use. As technology advances, it is imperative that the copyright law is responsive to these changes, balancing the interests of creators of copyrighted information and products with the interests of users of those products.

Re:Create promotes and defends the important balance of copyright. ARL's member institutions, as well as the general public, depend on balanced copyright that includes robust limitations and exceptions. A balanced system ensures that copyright does not limit or impede new and valuable technologies and uses.

Fair use is responsive to the quickly evolving technology and has been called the 'safety valve' of the US copyright law. Fair use also accommodates the First Amendment right to freedom of expression, ensuring that copyright does not prevent freedom of speech. As ARL has shown in an infographic, fair use is a right, vitally important, for everyone and everywhere. This important doctrine is vital to the economy, innovation, new creativity, learning and education.

The Re:Create Coalition launched with the following members: American Library Association, Association of Research Libraries, Center for Democracy & Technology, Computer & Communications Industry Association, Consumer Electronics Association, Electronic Frontier Foundation, Media Democracy Fund, New America's Open Technology Institute, Public Knowledge, and R Street Institute.

Click here

National Institute of Standards and Technology releases ‘Plan for Providing Public Access to the Results of Federally Funded Research’
- 10 Apr 2015

The US National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) released on April 3, 2015, a ‘Plan for Providing Public Access to the Results of Federally Funded Research’. The NIST plan calls for making peer-reviewed scholarly publications and associated data that result from NIST funding publicly accessible. The plan applies to both NIST employees and grantees.

NIST is taking a phased approach to implementation of the plan regarding publications. There will be a pilot exercise in year one (FY 2015) that will include two journals, the NIST Journal of Research and the Journal of Physical and Chemical Reference Data. In year two (FY 2016), deposit of NIST-authored publications will be operational and, in year three (FY 2017), extramural publications of scientific research funded by NIST will be required to be deposited in the NIST public access archive system. As of October 2015, there will be standard language regarding public access to data and publications in the terms and conditions for grants and contracts.

NIST will partner with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and use PubMed Central (PMC) as a repository for NIST-funded peer-reviewed publications. Authors of peer-reviewed publications resulting from NIST funding are required to submit their final, accepted manuscripts plus metadata to the NIST public access archive system. NIST will maintain a NIST interface to PMC to ensure ‘easy search, analysis, and download of the full text of peer-reviewed scholarly publications arising from research funded by NIST.’ The NIST plan cites two PMC services that may be used for automated retrieval and bulk downloading of a subset of articles and all metadata from PMC: the PMC Open Archives Initiative (OAI) service and the PMC File Transfer Protocol (FTP) service.

For journal literature, there will be a 12-month embargo period following publication, though NIST may consider a shorter or longer embargo period. Annually NIST will provide public notice in the Federal Register to allow individuals and organisations to petition to change the embargo period for a specific field by providing ‘evidence that the current embargo period does not provide a public benefit and is inconsistent with the objectives articulated in the OSTP memo.’

NIST approaches access to digital data in three ways: through data management plans (DMPs), an Enterprise Data Inventory (EDI), and a Common Access Platform (CAP) that is the public access infrastructure. Some of these efforts build on earlier work underway in response to the May 2013 Obama Administration memorandum on ‘Open Data Policy—Managing Information as an Asset.’

Data management plans in NIST grant proposals must contain a summary of grant activities that lead to the generation of data; data types that are generated by grant activities; how data will be stored and preserved; and how data will be reviewed and made publicly available. The DMP may also include an explanation of why data sharing and preservation are not included of the plan. ‘Reasonable costs’ for data sharing and preservation may be included in the DMP as well. As of October 2014, DMPs are required for all NIST-funded research.

The Enterprise Data Inventory is a catalogue of the data sets that result from NIST-funded research as well as metadata and information about how and where the data sets can be accessed. The Common Access Platform will be a production-level infrastructure that will include persistent identifiers and metadata for publicly available NIST data. The NIST plan notes that the CAP will be interoperable within NIST and possibly with other federal agencies.

Finally, the NIST plan includes a list of metrics that will be used to evaluate compliance with the NIST Public Access Policy. The plan also includes a series of timelines regarding development and implementation of the policy, infrastructure, processes, and outreach and education, all specified for both data and publications.

Click here

SPARC applauds reintroduction of the Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act
- 19 Mar 2015

SPARC, an international alliance of academic and research libraries working to create a more open system of scholarly communication, has applauded the reintroduction of the Fair Access to Science and Technology Research (FASTR) Act, which would ensure that public access to research articles becomes the law of the land.

FASTR calls for federal agencies with extramural research budgets in excess of $100 million to establish consistent, permanent public access policies for articles reporting on their funded research. This means that articles reporting on the results of taxpayer-funded research would be made available to the general public to freely access and fully use. FASTR would codify the February 22, 2013 White House Directive to provide greater public access to taxpayer-funded research.

FASTR was introduced in the House and Senate on March 18, 2015, with five original bipartisan cosponsors, including Senators John Cornyn (R-TX), Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Representatives Mike Doyle (D-PA-14), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA-19), and Kevin Yoder (R-KS-3). It comes during Sunshine Week, a national initiative designed to spotlight the importance of government transparency, and freedom of information.

The FASTR Act of 2015 represents the next step forward in the competitiveness agenda, spurring both innovation and job creation in broad sectors of the economy, from agriculture and energy to publishing; improves transparency and accountability in government spending; and expands access to taxpayer-funded information while protecting classified research, royalty generating works, and preliminary data.

Click here

Ebooks are an 'electronic service' and subject to higher tax, rules EU court
- 10 Mar 2015

The EU's highest court recently ruled that the European Union countries may not extend tax exemptions for books to include ebooks, adding that it considers downloadable ebooks to be services. E-books must be subject to the full rate of value-added tax (VAT), the court ruled.

In France and in Luxembourg, the supply of electronic books is subject to a reduced rate of VAT. Accordingly, since January 1, 2012, France has applied a VAT rate of 5.5 percent and Luxembourg a rate of 3 percent to the supply of electronic books.

The digital or electronic books at issue include books supplied, for consideration, by download or web streaming ('streaming'), from a website so that they can be viewed on a computer, a smartphone, electronic book readers or other reading system.

The Commission has asked the Court to declare that, by applying a reduced rate of VAT to the supply of electronic books, France and Luxembourg have failed to fulfil their obligations under the VAT Directive.

In the recent judgment, the Court upholds the Commission's action for failure to fulfil obligations.

The Court points out, first of all, that a reduced rate of VAT can apply only to supplies of goods and services covered by Annex III to the VAT Directive. That annex refers in particular to the 'supply of books ... on all physical means of support'. The Court concludes that the reduced rate of VAT is applicable to a transaction consisting of the supply of a book found on a physical medium. While admittedly, in order to be able to read an electronic book, physical support (such as a computer) is required, such support is not included in the supply of electronic books, meaning that Annex III does not include the supply of such books within its scope.

Moreover, the Court finds that the VAT Directive excludes any possibility of a reduced VAT rate being applied to 'electronically supplied services'. The Court holds that the supply of electronic books is such a service. The Court rejects the argument that the supply of electronic books constitutes a supply of goods (and not a supply of services). Only the physical support enabling an electronic book to be read could qualify as 'tangible property' but such support is not part of the supply of electronic books.

The Commission also criticises Luxembourg for applying a super-reduced VAT rate of 3 percent, even though the VAT Directive prohibits, in principle, VAT rates lower than 5 percent. The Court recalls that, according to the VAT Directive, a Member State may apply reduced VAT rates lower than 5 percent, provided that, among other things, the reduced rates are in accordance with EU legislation. Since the Court held earlier that the application of a reduced rate of VAT to the supply of electronic books does not comply with the VAT Directive, the requirement that it comply with EU legislation is not met with the result that Luxembourg cannot apply a super-reduced VAT rate of 3 percent to the supply of electronic books.

The judgments delivered by the Court does not prevent Member States from introducing a reduced rate of VAT for books on physical support, such as paper books.

Click here

UK government publishes long awaited science and innovation strategy, leaves many questions unanswered
- 19 Dec 2014

The UK government has published its long awaited science and innovation strategy, but many of the questions asked by the science community will not be answered until the next spending review. The strategy re-iterated capital spending plans set out in the autumn statement, but does not commit to ringfencing the science budget or to increase R&D expenditure in line with competitors.

The government said it recognised that the science base needs 'adequate resource funding' not just capital investment, and that R&D spending by departments needed to be prioritised – both of which would be considered in 2015.

The strategy puts emphasis on science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) skills: £67 million is earmarked to train up to 17,500 more STEM teachers over the next parliament and recruit another 2500 specialist maths and physics teachers. More apprenticeships will be delivered by creating national colleges in digital skills, wind energy and advanced manufacturing, with a £5 million pot to support the best candidates. The government said it expected further and higher education to take more account of STEM skills shortages.

It also wants to create another two catapults next year: energy systems and precision medicine, to add to the existing network. How much funding, or where these will be is not specified. There is also a £30 million commitment for UK involvement in the European x-ray free electron laser project being built near Hamburg, Germany, and £20 million to create an Inspiring Science Capital Fund, to encourage public engagement in science.

A raft of reviews are to be carried out, including efficiencies in universities and making sure that the research councils are investing public money wisely. There's recognition of the increasingly competitive environment for R&D too, which will mean that the country will need to compete to attract investment and skills, but also build on relationships with new scientific powers like China and South Africa.

Click here

Apple agrees to settle ebook antitrust case with US states, others
- 19 Jun 2014

Computer and software firm Apple Inc., US, has reportedly reached an out-of-court settlement to lay an antitrust lawsuit regarding ebook price fixing to rest. The class-action lawsuit, brought forward by 33 U.S. states, alleged that Apple was a dominant figure in an ebook price-fixing conspiracy designed to increase ebook prices and challenge Amazon's hold within the ebook industry.

By reaching a settlement outside of court, Apple is avoiding the trial, scheduled for July 14, in which the firm faced over $840 million in potential damages. Manhattan-based U.S. District Judge Denise Cote has ordered the parties to submit filings detailing the terms of the settlement within 30 days, but the details have not been revealed and must still be approved in court.

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) accused Apple and five publishers of ebook price fixing, and since then, 33 states have sued Apple on behalf of their consumers. In addition, a class action lawsuit has also been filed by individual consumers.

In a non-jury hearing last year, Cote concluded that Apple orchestrated the conspiracy. The publishers accused of conspiring to fix ebook agreed to pay over $160 million in settlement charges.

Originally, the state attorneys general sought $280 million in damages from Apple, but this was tripled following Cote's ruling, to $840 million. However, Apple is appealing Cote's decision, and the settlement -- as well as any damages payment -- is dependent on the outcome of such an appeal. The settlement out of court may have also been designed to avoid the tripled damages sought.

While Apple has maintained that it did not conspire to fix ebook pricing, the judge's decision was called a 'victory for millions of ebook readers' by the DoJ. A letter sent to the judge by attorney Steve Berman stated that 'any payment to be made by Apple under the settlement agreement will be contingent on the outcome of that appeal.'

Click here

Controversial Frontiers in Innovation, Research, Science, and Technology bill moves forward
- 17 Jun 2014

On May 28, 2014, the US House of Representatives Science, Space, and Technology Committee passed the Frontiers in Innovation, Research, Science, and Technology (FIRST) Act of 2014, H.R. 4186. The bill seeks to reauthorise sections of the America COMPETES Act relating to the National Science Foundation, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and the Office of Science and Technology Policy. The bill is highly controversial and opposed by many organisations and institutions.

In March, ARL, with others in the Open Access Working Group, wrote a letter opposing the provisions related to public access to federally funded research. An amendment relating to the public access provisions offered by Reps. Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) and Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) was successful in significantly improving the public access provisions. Also in March, ARL, with others in the Coalition for National Science Funding, wrote a letter to members of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology detailing concerns with the bill.

The legislation now moves to the House floor. The Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation is expected to begin consideration of America COMPETES shortly.

Click here

EU rejects international solution to library and archive copyright problems
- 07 May 2014

Discussions by the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) Standing Committee on Copyright & Related Rights (SCCR) broke down in the early hours of May 3, after the European Union (EU) attempted to block future discussion of copyright laws to aid libraries and archives fulfil their missions in the digital environment.

Library and archive delegations from Europe, Latin America, Africa, Australia, the United States, Canada and the UK attended the 27th meeting of the SCCR from April 28 – May 2, 2014, to push for an international treaty to help libraries and archives preserve cultural heritage, facilitate access to essential information by people wherever they are in the world.

The meeting ended in disarray, after the EU tried to have crucial references to "text-based" work on copyright exceptions removed from the meeting conclusions - a move viewed by other Member States and library and archive NGOs present as an attempt to delay, if not derail, any progress on copyright exceptions at WIPO.

Library and archive organisations that were present at the 27th meeting of the SCCR have since put on a joint press release expressing their frustration and disappointment with the EU, and rallying European libraries and archives to reach out to their policy makers to ask the EU to take a more nuanced approach to the discussions.

The EU's attempt to sideline discussion of copyright exceptions for libraries and archives, and on education, at WIPO is particularly concerning in light of the ongoing consultation on copyright laws at the EU level. IFLA put in a response to the EU Copyright Consultation which focused on challenges for libraries providing access to their collections across country borders, to foster international research, scholarly collaboration and cultural preservation.

A number of countries spoke up in strong support of copyright exceptions for libraries and archives during the meeting, and stood firmly against the EU during conclusions, including Brazil, India, Uruguay, the African Group, the Group of Latin American and Caribbean Countries (GRULAC) and Iran.

Prior to the collapse of the Committee, libraries and archives took part in a productive week of discussions, both on broadcasting and on copyright exceptions. The Chairman of the SCCR, Martin Moscoso (Peru) invited libraries and archives present to add their views to discussions on topics including licensing, parallel importation, cross border activities, limits on liability for libraries, orphan works and technological protection measures.

The next meeting of the Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR) takes place from June 30 – July 4. In the absence of conclusions from SCCR 27, following the breakdown of discussions, SCCR 28 promises to be consumed with discussions of the SCCR's future work plan with the Committee set to make general recommendations to the WIPO General Assembly in September 2014.

Click here

ARL, SPARC and other organisations oppose FIRST Act
- 21 Apr 2014

The Association of Research Libraries (ARL), SPARC, and 14 other organisations have sent a letter to Chairman Smith (R-TX) and Representative Johnson (D-TX) urging them to modify the Frontiers in Innovation Research, Science, and Technology (FIRST) Act of 2014 (H.R. 4186), which reauthorises parts of the America COMPETES Act. The bill includes many deeply problematic provisions relating to the National Science Foundation (NSF) and also includes restricted provisions for public access to research results.

In the letter, the organisations stated that the language in Section 303 of the FIRST Act calls for access to articles reporting on federally funded research to be restricted for up to three years after initial publication - allowing an initial 24-month embargo period, along with a possible additional one-year extension. This time frame is completely out of line with the policies in wide use around the world. Public funders, ranging from the European Commission to the Research Councils in the United Kingdom, as well as private funders ranging from the Wellcome Trust to the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, all call for maximum embargo periods of no more than six to 12 months.

FIRST was approved by the House Subcommittee on Research and Technology on March 13 and is expected to be considered by the House Science Committee in April.

Click here

British Library welcomes new exceptions to copyright
- 31 Mar 2014

The Intellectual Property Office has issued five draft statutory instruments on exceptions to copyright, following the Government's 2010 review of intellectual property law, Digital Opportunity.

The British Library welcomes the new exceptions, which will bring significant benefits for library users across the UK, and will support research, innovation and economic growth.

The proposed changes, which are due to come into effect on June 1st, include making digital preservation of sound and film lawful; extending 'fair dealing' for non-commercial research and private study to allow the copying of sound and film, including the facilitation of copying by a librarian or curator; allowing the digitisation of the Library's analogue collections to be used on dedicated computer terminals on the Library's own premises; allowing Text and Data Mining for non-commercial research purposes; and allowing the Library and its users to apply UK copyright limitations and exceptions, irrespective of contracts with publishers and suppliers.

According to Roly Keating, Chief Executive of the British Library, these balanced and proportionate changes are a valuable step forward for research. They will go a long way toward making UK copyright laws fit for the digital age, and bringing them into line with other developed countries.

Click here

FCC grants one-year waiver of e-reader accessibility requirement
- 10 Feb 2014

On January 28, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) granted a one-year waiver exempting e-readers from the requirement that equipment used for advanced communication services (ACS) be accessible to, and usable by, individuals with disabilities. The FCC granted the waiver in response to a petition filed by the Coalition of E-Reader Manufacturers, but limited the waiver to only one year despite the coalition's request for an indefinite waiver.

In the order granting the waiver, the FCC stated: We grant a waiver from the Commission's ACS rules for the class of "basic e-readers," as defined herein, until January 28, 2015. We limit the term of the waiver to one year from the expiration of the temporary waiver, rather than grant the Coalition's request for an indefinite waiver. We believe that, given the swift pace at which e-reader and tablet technologies are evolving and the expanding role of ACS in electronic devices, granting a waiver beyond this period is outweighed by the public interest and congressional intent to ensure that Americans with disabilities have access to advanced communications technologies.

ARL filed reply comments to the FCC in September 2013 and December 2013 opposing the waiver.

Click here

Canada’s Competition Bureau signs consent agreements with four publishers regarding e-book pricing policies
- 10 Feb 2014

Canada's Competition Bureau has reportedly reached consent agreements with four multinational publishers regarding their e-book pricing policies. The agreements resolve the Bureau's concerns that the four companies - Hachette Book Group Canada, Simon & Schuster Canada, HarperCollins Canada and Macmillan Canada - "engaged in conduct that resulted in reduced competition for e-books in Canada." As part of the agreement, none of the publishers admitted any wrongdoing.

The settlements are similar to those reached by publishers with the U.S. Department of Justice. The companies agreed to amend any clauses in their distribution agreements with e-book retailers that would "restrict, limit or impede an e-book retailer's ability to set, alter or reduce the retail price of any e-book for sale to consumers in Canada." That provision of the settlements will take effect 40 days after the agreements are approved and will last for 18 months.

A second provision prohibits publishers from including a "Most Favored Nation" clause (MFN) for 4-and-a-half years. MFNs were also banned in the US publisher settlements, as U.S. attorneys argued the MFN was "the glue" that held together a conspiracy to eliminate price competition.

The Competition Bureau said in a statement that it believes the consent agreements will lower the price of e-books in Canada, saying that it's monitoring of the agreements in the US shows that e-book prices fell by about 20 percent on bestselling titles.

Click here

Broad coalition urges senate to reauthorize COMPETES Act
- 12 Nov 2013

The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) has joined more than 300 universities and businesses; higher education associations; and non-profit, industry, and research organisations in a letter (PDF) to US Senate Commerce Committee leadership supporting reauthorisation of the America COMPETES Act.

The COMPETES Act promotes innovation through research and development to improve the competitiveness of the United States. The legislation is focused on the activities and programs of several agencies, such as the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

The signatories of the letter noted, "we stand ready to work with you to make the case to the public and other Members of Congress that the federal government must close the innovation deficit by making robust investments in science and education if we are to remain the world's innovation leader and continue to reap the economic and national security benefits of such investments."

The ARL is a non-profit organisation of 125 research libraries in the US and Canada. Its mission is to influence the changing environment of scholarly communication and the public policies that affect research libraries and the diverse communities they serve. ARL pursues this mission by advancing the goals of its member research libraries, providing leadership in public and information policy to the scholarly and higher education communities, fostering the exchange of ideas and expertise, facilitating the emergence of new roles for research libraries, and shaping a future environment that leverages its interests with those of allied organisations.

Click here

The UK House of Commons Business, Innovation and Skills Committee Report on OA
- 17 Sep 2013

The Business, Innovation and Skills Committee has published a Report welcoming the UK Government's commitment to increasing access to published research findings, and its desire to achieve full open access. However, while Gold open access is a desirable ultimate goal, focusing on it during the transition to a fully open access world is a mistake, says the Report.

The Report calls on the Government and the Research Councils UK (RCUK) to reconsider their preference for Gold open access during the five year transition period, and give due regard to the evidence of the vital role that Green open access and repositories have to play as the UK moves towards full open access.

The Report recommends that the Government take an active role in promoting standardisation and compliance across subject and institutional repositories. It calls on the RCUK to reinstate and strengthen the immediate deposit mandate in its original policy and improve the monitoring and enforcement of mandated deposit. Further, the Report states that the Government and RCUK should revise their policies to place an upper limit of 6 month embargoes on STEM subject research and up to 12 month embargoes for HASS subject research. Further, it urges the Government to mitigate against the impact on universities of paying Article Processing Charges out of their own reserves. If the preference for Gold is maintained, the Government and RCUK should amend their policies so that APCs are only paid to publishers of pure Gold rather than hybrid journals to eliminate the risk of double-dipping, the Report noted.

Amongst the Reports other conclusions and recommendations are: The Government should work to introduce a reduced VAT rate for e-journals; Non-disclosure clauses should not be used in publishing contracts that include the use of public funds. If their use persists, the Government should refer the matter to the Competition Commission; and BIS must review its consultation processes to ensure that lessons are learned from the lack of involvement of businesses, particularly SMEs, in the formation of open access policy.

Click here

Publishers in e-book antitrust case object to DOJ’s proposed punishment for Apple
- 09 Aug 2013

The five publishers who settled with the federal government in the ebook pricing case have objected to the government's proposed injunction for Apple in a joint court filing Wednesday. They argue that the injunction modifies the settlements that they already reached with the government, and does more to punish publishers than to punish Apple.

Apple had objected to the proposed injunction. A federal judge found Apple guilty of conspiring with publishers to fix ebook prices in July.

The publishers - Penguin, Hachette, Macmillan, Simon & Schuster and HarperCollins -already reached settlements with the DOJ that allow retailers to discount their ebooks for two years and prohibit most favoured nation clauses for five years. These settlements are already in effect; in fact, retailers have been discounting HarperCollins ebooks for nearly a year now. After two years, the existing settlements allow publishers to return to an agency pricing model where they set an ebook's price and the retailer cannot discount below that price.

The injunction that the DOJ proposed last week, however, would force publishers to let Apple discount its ebooks for five years, not just two. While the injunction only specifically mentions Apple, it would affect publishers' contracts with all retailers, including Amazon, because the publishers would not want to offer different terms to Apple than they do to other retailers.

The publishers conclude that the DOJ is attempting to impose a specific business model on the publishing industry, despite their express and repeated representations that they would play no such role. They ask Judge Denise Cote, who is overseeing the case, to reject the DOJ's proposed injunction.

Click here

Department of Justice proposes remedy to address Apple’s price fixing
- 05 Aug 2013

The Department of Justice and 33 State Attorneys General have submitted to the court a proposed remedy to address Apple Inc.'s illegal conduct, following the July 10, 2013, U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York decision finding that Apple conspired to fix the prices of e-books in the United States. The proposed relief is intended to halt Apple's anticompetitive conduct, restore lost competition and prevent a recurrence of the illegal activities.

The department's proposal, if approved by the court, will require Apple to terminate its existing agreements with the five major publishers with which it conspired – Hachette Book Group (USA), HarperCollins Publishers L.L.C., Holtzbrinck Publishers LLC, which does business as Macmillan, Penguin Group (USA) Inc. and Simon & Schuster Inc. – and to refrain for five years from entering new e-book distribution contracts which would restrain Apple from competing on price.

Under the department's proposed remedy, Apple will be prohibited from again serving as a conduit of information among the conspiring publishers or from retaliating against publishers for refusing to sell e-books on agency terms. Apple will also be prohibited from entering into agreements with suppliers of e-books, music, movies, television shows or other content that are likely to increase the prices at which Apple's competitor retailers may sell that content.

To reset competition to the conditions that existed before the conspiracy, Apple must also for two years allow other e-book retailers like Amazon and Barnes & Noble to provide links from their e-book apps to their e-bookstores, allowing consumers who purchase and read e-books on their iPads and iPhones easily to compare Apple's prices with those of its competitors.

Additionally, the Department of Justice is asking the court to appoint an external monitor to ensure that Apple's internal antitrust compliance policies are sufficient to catch anticompetitive activities before they result in harm to consumers. The monitor, whose salary and expenses will be paid by Apple, will work with an internal antitrust compliance officer who will be hired by and report exclusively to the outside directors comprising Apple's audit committee. The antitrust compliance officer will be responsible for training Apple's senior executives and other employees about the antitrust laws and ensuring that Apple abides by the relief ordered by the court.

On April 11, 2012, the department filed a civil antitrust lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York against Apple, Hachette, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Penguin and Simon & Schuster, for conspiring to end e-book retailers' freedom to compete on price by taking control of pricing from e-book retailers and substantially increasing the prices that consumers paid for e-books.

At the same time that it filed the lawsuit, the department reached settlements with three of the publishers – Hachette, HarperCollins and Simon & Schuster. Those settlements were approved by the court in September 2012. The department settled with Penguin on Dec. 18, 2012, and with Macmillan on Feb. 8, 2013. The Penguin settlement was approved by the court in May 2013. Final approval of the Macmillan settlement is pending before the court. Under the settlements, each publisher was required to terminate agreements that prevented e-book retailers from lowering the prices at which they sell e-books to consumers and to allow for retail price competition in renegotiated e-book distribution agreements.

The department's trial against Apple, which was overseen by Judge Denise Cote, began on June 3, 2013. The trial lasted for three weeks, with closing arguments taking place on June 20, 2013. The court issued its opinion that Apple Inc. violated Section 1 of the Sherman Act on July 10, 2013. The court will hold a hearing on remedies on August 9, 2013.

Click here

G8 science ministers’ recommendations on access to research
- 18 Jun 2013

As preparations were underway in Northern Ireland for the 39th G8 summit, science ministers from G8 nations met with their national science academies to discuss the most pressing issues in research facing scientists worldwide. Their recommendations will be put to the G8 leaders during talks being held June 17-18. Among them are decisive actions required to make scientific research more open and more accessible.

In a statement released on June 13, the group noted that open enquiry is at the heart of scientific endeavour, and rapid technological change has profound implications for the way that science is both conducted and its results communicated. Further they announced their support for a clear set of principles for more open data, including that publicly funded research data should be made open, and that open data by definition should be easily discoverable, accessible and assessable.

Crucially, this set of principles acknowledges the need for open data to be written into government policy to ensure universal adoption, and for that policy to take into account the need for rewards and recognition for researchers opening up their data, and a digital infrastructure to support this data sharing. International collaboration will be essential to make this a global reality.

The G8 science ministers also made clear the importance of access to scientific research. This comes in the wake of steps taken in UK government policy (Universities Minister David Willets has mandated that all publicly funded research be published in gold or green open access venues) and wider lobbying from key figures in the research community. In the statement for G8 leaders, science ministers have outlined their main goals in relation to accessible research, highlighting the importance of peer review and the role of publishers and learned societies. The statement also reiterates the findings of the UK’s Finch Report of last year, namely that making publicly funded, peer-reviewed, published scientific research increasingly accessible will ‘accelerate research, drive innovation, and benefit the economy.’

To accommodate for the greater demand for data sharing alongside article publication open access publisher BioMed Central has developed a number of innovative journals and partnerships. From GigaScience, the big data genomics journal published in collaboration with the BGI, to an agreement with LabArchives that allows BioMed Central authors up to 100 MB of free storage in an online ‘notebook’ for research associated data. A number of its journals, including BMC Research Notes also provide a novel article type – a data note – that allows authors to submit data sets (either as associated files or via a link to an accessible deposition in a data repository) with a short accompanying report, separate to a full results article.

One area in particular that is receiving increasing attention and loud calls for greater openness is clinical trial research. The AllTrials initiative was founded early in 2013, and, although UK based, has international scope and ambitions. The campaign calls on governments to demand that all clinical trial research be published, and clinical trial data made publicly available within the constraints of ensuring anonymity of sensitive medical information. The campaign is supported by a number of publishers, societies and institutions, including the BMJ (co-founders of the initiative), BioMed Central, the Wellcome Trust, and GalxoSmith Kline. The campaign also has support from the European Patients Forum, which comprises 61 member bodies and over 150 million members, signalling the strengthening call from the public for transparency and accountability in the reporting of scientific research, especially that funded by public money.

The statement from the G8 science ministers is a step toward recognising this shift in public opinion and research demands. The outcomes of the G8 summit this week could kick start an international movement in opening up research and sharing data.

Click here

Biss' open access legislation passes House
- 28 May 2013

Legislation State Senator Daniel Biss (D-Evanston) sponsored to work toward making state universities' taxpayer-funded research available to the public recently passed the House by a vote of 98-16. Senate Bill 1900, which will require each public university to convene an open access task force, now awaits the governor's signature.

The task forces will study other institutions' experiences with open access and issue recommendations as to how each school can make more of its researchers' work available to the public at no cost.

Some open access policies require faculty members to submit articles accepted for publication to an online repository that members of the public can access for free. Others strongly encourage faculty to participate but allow them to opt out if a journal publishing their work refuses to allow the article to be made freely available. With state universities constrained by tight budgets seeking to limit expenses such as journal subscriptions, open access policies could benefit students and faculty as well as members of the general public.

Click here

California OA bill clears state’s Assembly Accountability and Administrative Review Committee
- 13 May 2013

A bill that would require California-funded research to be deposited in open access repositories recently passed the state's Assembly Accountability and Administrative Review Committee. The bill was the brainchild of California Council on Science & Tech Fellow Annabelle Kleist. Assemblyman Brian Nestande (R-Palm Desert) introduced the bill.

According to a report published in the LibraryJournal, it not clear as to how much research California does fund as agencies are not required to report their funding to the legislature. Most recent figure Nestande's office could find was $327 million in direct research funding in 2006, based on an National Science Foundation report.

As originally drafted, the bill called for a six month embargo and a new repository managed by the California State Library. However, in that form, in addition to opposition from the American Association of Publishers, NetChoice, TechAmerica, and CalChamber, it attracted critique from an unusual source - the University of California (UC) system, whose libraries spend nearly $40 million each year on access to academic journals.

In a letter to the committee, Robert L. Powell, Chair of U.C.'s Academic Council, wrote that while supporting open access in principle, the Senate has concerns that the bill's current permissible embargo period of six months may be too short, and does not conform to national open access policies. Adrian Diaz, UC, Legislative Director, asked the committee to explicitly state that UC is not a state agency, and is therefore not required to develop an open access policy of its own.

Nestande made the requested amendments, and UC now endorses the bill. She also introduced amendments to replace the new repository requirement with "allowing agencies to determine which existing repositories" they'll accept.

Click here

ARL applauds US Judiciary Committee action to reform privacy laws
- 26 Apr 2013

The US Senate Judiciary Committee has, on April 25, reportedly taken another crucial step toward fixing outdated privacy laws by endorsing a bill proposed by Chairman Patrick Leahy. The bill includes vital reforms to give appropriate privacy protection to e-mail and cloud storage.

The committee passed a similar bill in November 2012, but the legislative session ended before the measure could reach the full Senate. The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) applauds Chairman Leahy and all members of the Senate Judiciary Committee for their strong, bipartisan support for reasonable privacy protections online.

For more information about the committee action and the bill, which would update the 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA), see "Updating an E-Mail Law from the Last Century" in the New York Times (April 24, 2013).

ARL is a nonprofit organisation of 125 research libraries in the US and Canada. Its mission is to influence the changing environment of scholarly communication and the public policies that affect research libraries and the diverse communities they serve.

SPARC welcomes directive mooting open access to publicly funded research
- 25 Feb 2013

The Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC) has applauded US President Barack Obama for issuing a directive to ensure that the results of taxpayer-funded research – both articles and data – are made available to the general public to freely access and fully use.

The action comes about after a 10-year campaign by the Open Access (OA) movement – scientists, universities, libraries, technology leaders, patient advocates, entrepreneurs, students, and every-day Americans – aimed at making taxpayer-funded scientific research freely accessible and fully reusable in a digital environment.

Every year, the federal government uses taxpayer dollars to fund tens of billions of dollars of scientific research that results in thousands upon thousands of articles published in scientific journals. The government funds this research with the understanding that it will advance science, spur the economy, accelerate innovation, and improve the lives of our citizens.

Yet, it is observed, most taxpayers – including academics, students, and patients – are shut out of accessing and using the results of the research that their tax dollars fund, because it is only available through expensive and often hard-to-access scientific journals.

The potential economic benefits of opening up access to this research are estimated to be in the hundreds of billions of dollars. In instances where this kind of OA has already been enabled, remarkable examples reportedly demonstrate how powerful OA can be. Placing the Human Genome Project in the public domain, for example, enabled scientists everywhere to access the data. The $3.8 billion investment in the project has had an estimated economic impact of almost $800 billion.

The White House directive affirms the principle that the public has a right to access the results of taxpayer-funded research and calls on all federal agencies with annual research and development budgets of $100 million or more to provide free and timely online access to the results of that research. Articles reporting on the results of publicly funded scientific research must be made available after a 12 month embargo period.

The directive is said to build on the progress made by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the first federal agency to require public access to taxpayer-funded research. Since its implementation, the NIH policy enabled more than 90,000 new biomedical manuscripts to be made publicly available each year, resulting in millions of Americans having access to vital health care information. Demand for this information is extremely high, with more than 700,000 unique users accessing material from this repository each weekday.

The directive comes as the bipartisan Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), is making is way through the US House of Representatives and Senate.

Click here

US Reps introduce FASTR bill to expand access to federally funded research
- 15 Feb 2013

US Representatives Mike Doyle, Kevin Yoder and Zoe Lofgren have introduced legislation – the Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR) - to increase the openness, transparency and accessibility of publicly funded research results. FASTR would require federal agencies with annual extramural research budgets of $100 million or more to provide the public with online access to research manuscripts stemming from funded research no later than six months after publication in a peer-reviewed journal.

It would require federal departments and agencies with an annual extramural research budget of $100 million or more, whether funded totally or partially by a government department or agency, to submit an electronic copy of the final manuscript that has been accepted for publication in a peer-reviewed journal. The legislation will further ensure that the manuscript is preserved in a stable digital repository maintained by that agency or in another suitable repository that permits free public access, interoperability, and long-term preservation.

FASTR would also require that each taxpayer-funded manuscript be made available to the public online and without cost, no later than six months after the article has been published in a peer-reviewed journal. It would require agencies to examine whether introducing open licensing options for research papers they make publicly available as a result of the public access policy would promote productive reuse and computational analysis of those research papers.

An identical Senate counterpart of this legislation is also being introduced by Senators John Cornyn and Ron Wyden.

It is expected that this legislation will unlock unclassified research funded by agencies like the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Commerce, the Department of Defense, the Department of Education, the Department of Energy, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Transportation, the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the National Science Foundation.

FASTR is said to echo the interest in public access policies expressed by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, which has examined the mechanisms that would leverage federal investments in scientific research and increase access to information that promises to stimulate scientific and technological innovation and competitiveness.

The Association of American Publishers (AAP) has, however, termed the legislation an unnecessary and waste of federal resources. According to AAP, the bill revives the majority of the terms set out in the Federal Research Public Access Act (FRPAA), which was introduced without further action in each of the last three Congresses. The Association fears that the bill ignores crucial distinctions among federal agencies and scientific disciplines and would attempt to shoehorn every group into a one-size-fits-all mandate on publication methods and embargo periods. Further, it disregards what is being accomplished through public-private partnerships and agency collaborations, says AAP. It also points out that the bill would require agencies to undertake extensive new duties and reporting requirements while also requiring them to invest in new taxpayer-funded technology resources and systems.

Click here

Apple, publishers settle e-book pricing case with European Commission
- 17 Dec 2012

Four major publishers and Apple have reportedly settled a case with European antitrust regulators after negotiations began in September, ending an ongoing row over e-book price fixing.

Apple, along with HarperCollins, Hachette Livre, Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holtzbrinck-owned Macmillan and CBS-owned Simon & Schuster have all agreed to legally binding conditions that would ease pricing restrictions on Amazon and other e-book sellers.

A fifth publisher, Penguin, owned by UK group Pearson, is still under investigation as the publisher 'chose not to offer commitments.' However, the Commission has said that it was still in discussions with the publisher.

The European Commission said in a statement that the companies 'may have contrived to limit retail price competition for e-books in the European Economic Area (EEA), in breach of EU antitrust rules.' In order to address these concerns, the e-book publishers have offered to 'terminate on-going agency agreements and to exclude certain clauses in their agency agreements during the next five years.'

It has taken a year for European antitrust authorities to reach this point after UK trading authorities first raided offices and began investigating on behalf of the EU. Once the EU was involved, allegations were made that Apple and its partner publishers had conspired to restrict competition by fixing the prices of e-books.

The Commission said it would open an antitrust case to investigate whether the publishers were 'helped' by Apple to fix e-book pricing. It is also alleged that the actions could have blocked rivals, such as Amazon, which has a different 'wholesale' pricing model, and ultimately hurt consumers. The publishers also agreed to end a 'most-favored-nation' clause, which allows a retailer to apply a lower retail price for an e-book by another retailer, regardless of the model used by other retailers. This meant that retailers could take a slice of the profits, which could have a knock-on effect to smaller booksellers.

The Commission said in the statement that it was concerned that the switch to these agency contracts 'may have been coordinated between the publishers and Apple, as part of a common strategy aimed at raising retail prices for e-books or preventing the introduction of lower retail prices for e-books on a global scale.' The Commission said it was 'satisfied' that these commitments would 'remedy the identified competition' that Europe's executive body identified.

UK government stands up for open access with £10 million funding boost
- 02 Nov 2012

In line with the UK government's commitment to free and open access to publicly-funded research, Universities and Science Minister David Willetts recently announced a £10 million cash injection to the top 30 UK research-intensive institutions, to aid the transition to open access and compliance with the new Research Council UK Open Access Policy.

As the pioneer of open access publishing with over 300 journals across STM, BioMed Central, ChemistryCentral and Springer through SpringerOpen and Springer Open Choice, have welcomed the steps that the government and RCUK are taking to support open access and increase the visibility of the UK’s research output.

The new RCUK OA policy, launched on the July 16, 2012, states that all peer-reviewed published research articles and conference proceedings funded by RCUK from April1, 2013, must be open access (although researchers are encouraged to begin OA publishing as soon as possible). While RCUK will still support a mixed approach to open access via ‘green’ and 'gold' OA routes, the policy aims to make it simpler for UK institutions and researchers to publish in open access journals, including paying for Article Processing Charges (APCs) through block grants to UK Higher Education institutions, approved independent research organizations, and Research Council Institutes. This is in line with the recommendations of the Finch report on open access, published in June 2012.

The Finch Report, together with this additional £10 million government funding announcement, signals significant developments for the open access movement in the UK, further ensuring that the results of UK research are made openly available for all.

Open access publisher BioMed Central, ChemistryCentral, SpringerOpen and Springer Open Choice are working closely with these UK institutions to set up Membership accounts to help manage publication visibility and provide discounts that will further extend the benefits of this extra funding.

Click here

New ESF-EMRC Science Policy Briefing report calls for adoption of open access in biomedical sciences
- 23 Oct 2012

The European Science Foundation’s (ESF) membership organisation for all medical research councils in Europe, the European Medical Research Councils (EMRC) has released an ESF-EMRC Science Policy Briefing (SPB) entitled ‘Open Access in Biomedical Research.’ The ESF-EMRC Science Policy Briefing highlights the need to accelerate the adoption of open access to research articles in the biomedical sciences across Europe.

Over the past few months, various reports and communications have been published on the topic of open access. These include the Finch Group report on June 18, 2012, the Publishing and the Ecology of European Research (PEER) final report on June 19, 2012, the European Research Council (ERC) announcement of its new open access policy on July 13, 2012, and the European Commission’s launch of a communication and recommendations to Member States ‘Towards better access to scientific information’ on July 17, 2012. On the same day, Science Europe reaffirmed its commitment to strengthening the European Research and recognised open access as a priority area in which a common policy and action plan will be developed and implemented.

The ESF-EMRC Science Policy Briefing was instigated to examine whether there are new opportunities for open access in biomedical research within Europe that will benefit European biomedical researchers and European society as a whole. The report provides three key recommendations for the adoption of open access policy.

The report proposes that research papers should be made freely available to all to read, use and re-use, with appropriate acknowledgement, in order to maximise the value of biomedical research, build on the body of knowledge, accelerate the process of discovery and improve human health. It calls on individual agencies to work together to raise awareness of the moral imperative for open access. Further, the report notes that all research stakeholders should work together in order to support the extension of Europe PubMed Central into a Europe-wide PubMed Central.

US federal judge approves DoJ’s e-book settlement with three publishers
- 10 Sep 2012

US Federal Judge Denise Cote has approved the Department of Justice (DoJ)'s controversial settlement with three major publishers - Hachette, HarperCollins, and Simon & Schuster - in a 45-page decision. The settlement requires the publishers to allow e-book retailers to sell their books at any price, even below cost, so long as the retailer does not lose money over a publisher's entire e-book list over a 12-month period.

DoJ had sued five publishers (the others are Penguin and Macmillan) and Apple this spring, alleging that they had colluded to introduce "agency pricing" for e-books in 2010 with the launch of the iPad.

The Authors Guild opposed approval of the settlement, believing that the DoJ could address the alleged collusion without requiring three publishers to allow Amazon to resume predatory pricing. It has been pointed out that Amazon's predatory pricing (which reportedly included selling bestselling frontlist e-book titles at a loss) may have helped the online retailer gain a 90% share of the e-book market by January 2010.

There is concern that the court's ruling will likely deal a serious blow to bookstores. According to the Authors Guild, selling goods at below cost is inherently anticompetitive and Amazon has made a practice of targeting the very titles that sell best in bookstores for its predatory pricing. Because of the number of titles affected by the settlement, and because it comes at a critical time for bookstores, the settlement may irreversibly reshape the literary marketplace, it is observed. Even so, as the court acknowledges, the DoJ didn't bother submitting a single economic study about the likely effects of the settlement on the market.

Click here

US Dept. of Justice refutes objections raised over e-book pricing deal
- 24 Aug 2012

The US Department of Justice (DoJ) has said that arguments made by various organisations objecting to the final judgment reached between the government and Hachette, HarperCollins and Simon & Schuster over e-book price fixing charges raise no real new issues. The DoJ has therefore asked that the court approve the agreement without further hearings. The organisations objecting to the judgment include Apple, Macmillan and Penguin. Additionally a friend of the court brief had been filed by the ABA and Barnes & Noble.

According to a Publishers Weekly report, the DoJ maintains that arguments made by the parties that the government doesn't understand the e-book business is just a variation made by other industries at other times. DoJ wrote that while e-books are a relatively new arrival on the publishing scene, a plea for special treatment under the antitrust laws is an old standby. Railroads, publishers, lawyers, construction engineers, healthcare providers and oil companies are just some of the voices that have raised cries against 'ruinous competition' over the decades. Time and time again the courts have rejected the invitation to exempt particular businesses from the reach of the Sherman Act.

The new brief rebuts the separate filings made by Apple, Macmillan, Penguin and the ABA/Barnes & Noble. In dismissing the Penguin brief that argues that, overall, e-book prices have come down since the implementation of the agency model, the DoJ points to its own study that shows that the average price of a Penguin title sold through Amazon rose 17 percent after the implementation of the agency model and that the average price of new releases rose 21 percent. The DoJ provided two exhibits to support its claim of price increases, but continued to assert that it did not need to produce its internal economic analyses.

The DoJ counters Apple's objections by claiming that what troubles Apple the most was that the decree returned e-book pricing not only to Apple but to its competitors as well. It also wrote that Apple's desire to avoid price competition for as long as possible was the unstated reason why it sought to undo or forestall the settlements.

The DoJ also said there was little evidence to suggest that if the settlements were approved Amazon would return to a more dominant position in the e-book market, given the increased competition from a number of players including Microsoft's pending partnership with Barnes & Noble.

Apple, Publishers file opposition to Dept. of Justice settlement
- 17 Aug 2012

Apple recently filed an opposition to the Department of Justice's proposed settlement with three publishers in its e-book price-fixing case, arguing that the company stands to be punished by the deal though it never 'participated in, encouraged, or sought to benefit from collusion,' and assailing a deal that would harm the company by nullifying contracts 'before a single document has been introduced into evidence.' The three publishers are: Hachette, Simon & Schuster and HarperCollins.

Apple reportedly urged the court to do one of two things: approve a more narrowly focused settlement that bars collusion; or reserve final judgment on the settlement until the company has had their day in court. In addition to Apple, the two non-settling publishers - Penguin and Macmillan - also filed opposition briefs.

The brief also prominently raises the outpouring of public comments against the settlement, noting that 92 percent (800 of 868) submissions came from 'actual market participants' who opposed the settlement, raising questions as to whether the deal is in the public interest.



Publishers’ statement on injunctive and declaratory relief in the copyright infringement lawsuit
- 15 Aug 2012

The US District Court for the Northern District of Georgia recently handed down a ruling on injunctive and declaratory relief in the copyright infringement lawsuit brought by academic publishers against Georgia State University. According to a statement from the publisher plaintiffs the District Court’s decision is marred by a number of serious legal errors.

The fair use exception cannot be stretched beyond recognition simply because course materials are delivered in a digital format by an educational institution, the statement noted. Further, it states that the ruling excuses copyright violations by GSU and endorses unauthorised copying and distribution of academic works well beyond what the law allows and what universities across the country consider reasonable. The decision devalues academic scholarship by treating such work as ‘factual’ compilations.

According to the statement, this case was brought reluctantly to curb practices that threaten publishing activities vital to institutions of higher education. Then, as of now, the plaintiff publishers are of the academy — two are themselves departments of universities. As with the initial decision to bring suit, the decision regarding an appeal will be based on a considered assessment that takes into account the extent to which this ruling, which the plaintiff publishers believe to be legally vulnerable on multiple grounds, endangers the creation and dissemination of high-quality academic work.

Click here

UK set to unveil plans for free access to publicly funded research by 2014
- 16 Jul 2012

The UK government is reportedly set to unveil controversial plans to make publicly funded scientific research immediately available for anyone to read for free by 2014. Under the scheme, research papers that describe work paid for by the British taxpayer will be free online for universities, companies and individuals to use for any purpose, wherever they are in the world. The move is viewed as the most radical shakeup of academic publishing since the invention of the Internet.

In an interview with the Guardian, before the announcement, David Willetts, the universities and science minister, has said he expected a full transformation to the open approach over the next two years. According to him, the move reflects a groundswell of support for "open access" publishing among academics who have long protested that journal publishers make large profits by locking research behind online paywalls. Though many academics are expected to welcome the announcement, some scientists contacted by the Guardian were reportedly dismayed that the cost of the transition, which could reach £50 million a year, must be covered by the existing science budget and that no new money would be found to fund the process. That could lead to less research and fewer valuable papers being published.

British universities now pay around £200 million a year in subscription fees to journal publishers, but under the new scheme, authors will pay "article processing charges" (APCs) to have their papers peer reviewed, edited and made freely available online. The typical APC is around £2,000 per article. Tensions between academics and the larger publishing companies have risen steeply in recent months as researchers have baulked at journal subscription charges their libraries were asked to pay. More than 12,000 academics have boycotted Dutch publisher Elsevier, in part of a broader campaign against the industry that has been called the "academic spring".

The government's decision is outlined in a formal response to recommendations made in a major report into open access publishing led by Professor Dame Janet Finch, a sociologist at Manchester University. The Finch report strongly recommended so-called "gold" open access, which ensures the financial security of the journal publishers by essentially swapping their revenue from library budgets to science budgets.

Google likely to face US govt suit
- 13 Apr 2012

Internet search services provider Google, Inc., US, is likely to be the next major tech target of the US and EU trust-busters after the US Justice Department recently sued Apple for illegally conspiring with publishers in the e-book market.

According to legal experts, in an industry in which companies can soar to near-monopoly positions in a few years, justice authorities on both sides of the Atlantic will keep pursuing tech giants as they fight to defend their market positions. However, tech industry dynamics such as the pace of change, and the complex economics of technology and network-bound markets could make it harder to prosecute any of them.

Earlier this week, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott and 15 other US state attorneys general charged three of the nation’s largest book publishers and Apple Inc. with conspiring to fix the sales prices of e-books. The states’ antitrust case cites the defendants for violating the states’ antitrust laws and the federal Sherman Antitrust Act. Apple, as a reseller, allegedly worked with them as it sought to erode Amazon's dominance in the business.

Click here

Three US publishers, Apple charged with antitrust violations over e-books pricing
- 12 Apr 2012

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott and 15 other US state attorneys general have charged three of the nation’s largest book publishers and Apple Inc. with conspiring to fix the sales prices of e-books. The states’ antitrust case, which was filed in federal court in Austin, cites the defendants for violating the states’ antitrust laws and the federal Sherman Antitrust Act. Defendants named in the antitrust action are: Penguin Group (USA) Inc., Simon & Schuster Inc., Macmillan Holdings LLC and Apple Inc.

The antitrust action stems from a two-year investigation, led by the Texas Attorney General’s Office and coordinated with the offices of the Connecticut Attorney General and the US Department of Justice, into allegations that the defendants conspired to raise e-book prices. For years, retailers sold e-books through a traditional wholesale distribution model, under which retailers – not publishers – set e-books’ sales prices. However, the investigation revealed that Penguin, Simon & Schuster and Macmillan conspired with other publishers and Apple to artificially raise prices by imposing a distribution model in which the publishers set the prices for bestsellers at $12.99 and $14.99.

When Apple prepared to enter the e-book market, the publishers and Apple agreed to adopt an agency distribution model as a mechanism to allow them to fix prices. To enforce their price-fixing scheme, the publishers and Apple relied on contract terms that forced all e-book outlets to sell their products at the same price. Because the publishers agreed to use the same prices, retail price competition was eliminated. According to the states’ enforcement action, the coordinated agreement to fix prices resulted in e-book customers paying more than $100 million in overcharges.

The antitrust action seeks injunctive relief to reverse the effects of the defendants’ anti-competitive conduct as well as damages for customers who paid artificially inflated prices for e-books.

The states have reached an agreement in principle with Harper Collins and Hachette to provide significant consumer restitution as well as injunctive relief.

Texas was joined in the enforcement action by Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, South Dakota, Tennessee, Vermont and West Virginia.

Click here

US panel clears publication of revised version of bird flu studies
- 02 Apr 2012

The US’ National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity (NSABB) recently announced its support to publish research studies showing how scientists made new easy-to-spread forms of bird flu. According to the board, the studies, now revised, do not reveal details bioterrorists could use.

It is expected that this decision could end a debate that began in December 2011 when the US government asked the scientists not to publicise all the details of their work.

The research, by two scientific teams – one in the Netherlands and the other in Wisconsin – was funded by the US. It was an effort to learn more about the potential threat from bird flu in Asia. The virus so far does not spread easily among people. But the new lab-made viruses spread easily among ferrets, suggesting they would also spread among humans.

Last year, after reviewing earlier versions of the papers, the NSABB expressed concerns that the information could be used by bioterrorists. Scientists worldwide debated the matter. Many argued that full publication would help scientists track dangerous mutations in natural bird flu viruses and test vaccines and treatments.

Recently, the board members met in Washington and announced that they were satisfied with the revised papers. The panel's advice will now go to the US Department of Health and Human Services for a decision.

The board unanimously supported publication of one study, led by Yoshihiro Kawaoka, of the University of Wisconsin. By majority vote it supported publication of the key parts of a second study, from Ron Fouchier, of the Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.

FPRAA takes Center Stage at Congressional hearing
- 02 Apr 2012

The U.S. House of Representatives Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight recently conducted a hearing on the topic ‘Examining Public Access and Scholarly Publication Interests.’ The hearing was designed to generate information regarding open access in general, but quickly turned into a discussion of the recently re-introduced Federal Research Public Access Act (FRPAA).

Committee Chairman, Paul Broun (R-GA), opened the hearing with the assertion that open access to federally funded research is necessary, but noted that questions remain regarding the best approach.

The hearing also featured testimonies from two members of scholarly societies – Fred Dylla (the American Institute of Physics), and Crispin Taylor (the American Society of Plant Biologists) - who expressed concerns with various components of FRPAA. They argued that the current system is working well, and worried that their societies, which are currently funded almost entirely from revenue from subscription based publications, would see a significant decrease in revenue if FRPAA were to be enacted.

Both also expressed that they felt that Congress had already adequately addressed the question of public access to federally funded research through Section 103 of the America Competes Act, which does not establish any actual public access policies, but rather called for an Interagency Working Group to discuss priorities for federal agencies considering such policies.

Rep. Zoe Lofgren, (D-CA), noting that the NIH Public Access has now been in place for nearly four years, challenged the publishers assertions that they would be financially harmed by FPRAA, and asked if any data demonstrating financial harm to publishers could be presented by any of the panelists. None was provided.

By contrast, Elliot Maxwell, Project Director for the Digital Connections Council of the Committee for Economic Development, testified that move towards open access to federally funded research would lead to the acceleration of scientific progress, and generate economic growth. He framed his testimony on his recent report ‘The Future of Taxpayer Funded Research: Who Will Control Access to the Results?’ which examines the impacts of the NIH Public Access Policy.

The report, which shows no persuasive evidence of damages to the STM publishers, outlines the clear and calculable public benefits to taxpayer-paid research that far outweighs any negatives.

Dr. Stuart Shieber, Director of the Office for Scholarly Communication at Harvard University, argued that open access to research is an intrinsic public good. Shieber suggested that traditional publishing market is a dysfunctional one - library budgets for serials continue to shrink while journal profit margins increase. He spoke to the growing body of research demonstrating the economic growth occurs from increased innovations from openly accessible research. He discussed several forward-thinking open access publishing models, and focused on the need for policies that facilitate full utility of digital information in order to enable scholarship and research.

Rep. Lofgren supported this assertion, presenting a letter supporting Open Access in general and FRPAA in specific, signed by 52 Nobel Laureates to be submitted for the record. During the lively Q&A session, Rep. Lofgren spoke to the need for a different model. She asserted the current scholarly publishing model where authors receive no pay for their works cannot be sustained, and that it is, in fact, ‘on life support.’ She expressed her support for FRPAA, noting that this particular legislation would help enable the proper mandates needed for open access.

SPARC, along with six leading National and regional Library organisations, submitted a statement in support of FRPAA for the Congressional record.

Click here

Apple, US publishers threatened with lawsuit for colluding over e-book prices
- 12 Mar 2012

The US Justice Department has reportedly warned Apple, Inc. and five of the nation’s leading publishers that it plans to take legal action against them for allegedly colluding to raise the price of e-books. The publishers include Pearson, Macmillan, Hachette Book Group, Simon & Schuster and HarperCollins.

According to media reports, several of the parties have held talks to settle the antitrust case and head off a potentially damaging court battle. If successful, such a settlement could have wide-ranging consequences for the industry, potentially leading to cheaper e-books for consumers. However, not all publishers are in this settlement discussions.

The Justice Department believes that Apple and the publishers acted in concert to raise prices across the industry, and is prepared to sue them for violating federal antitrust laws. Publishers have, however, denied acting jointly to raise prices. They have told investigators that the shift to agency pricing enhanced competition in the industry by allowing more electronic booksellers to thrive.

William Lynch, chief executive of Barnes & Noble, gave a deposition to the Justice Department in which he testified that abandoning the agency pricing model would effectively result in a single player gaining even more market share than it has today.

Among the issues that the Justice Department has examined is the effort by three publishers involved in the probe to ‘window’ e-books in late 2009.

For publishers, digital-book revenue is still the fastest-growing segment of the business at a time when the sale of physical books is on a decline. E-book sales more than doubled to $970 million in 2011, according to a survey of 77 publishers conducted by the Association of American Publishers. As more consumers migrate to dedicated e-readers and tablet reading devices, the number of consumers reading digitally will likely increase.

It isn't the first time the Justice Department has taken action against Apple for allegedly colluding with other companies. In 2010, several technology companies agreed to settle allegations that they colluded to hold down wages by improperly agreeing not to poach each other's employees.

US scholarly journal publishers oppose Federal Research Public Access Act
- 06 Mar 2012

Eighty-one US scholarly journal publishing organisations have expressed their strong opposition to the third introduction of the Federal Research Public Access Act (FRPAA, H.R. 4004 and S.2096).

The Association of American Publishers' Professional and Scholarly Publishing Division (AAP/PSP) and the DC Principles Coalition sent letters - on behalf of a diverse cross-section of American non-profit, scholarly society and commercial organisations - to Sen. Joseph Lieberman, Chair, and Sen. Susan Collins, Ranking Member of the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs and Rep. Darrell Issa, Chair, and Rep. Elijah Cummings, Ranking Member, Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

The 81 signatories' main points of opposition to FRPAA are that it requires that final manuscripts of researchers' journal articles that explain, interpret and extensively report the results of federally-funded research be publicly available online, worldwide, no more than six months after publication. The manuscripts undergo publishers' validation, digital enhancement, production, interoperability and distribution processes before publication.

The one-size-fits-all six-month deadline for every federal agency that funds research ignores well-known significant differences in how each research discipline discovers and uses individual articles, periods that can last several years before costs are recovered, it is argued. Further, the bill limits where government-funded researchers may publish their work. It also undermines publishers' investments in new business models that currently provide unprecedented access for the public to such works for free or at modest cost.

At a time when the US Congress is looking to cut unnecessary expenses in federal government and focus budgets on priorities, it is felt that FRPAA imposes additional costs on all federal agencies by requiring them to divert critical research funding to the creation and management of new databases, archives and infrastructure to handle dissemination of these articles. These are functions that are already being performed by private-sector publishers, it is pointed out.

Search for more Govt. Acts/policies related information



Click here

US anti-open access bill stymied as Elsevier backs out
- 05 Mar 2012

The proposed Research Works Act in the US has been dropped in a move that is seen to signal a pivotal shift in scientific publishing. The legislation, had it been passed, would have stopped funding agencies stipulating that research funded with taxpayer dollars be made publicly available.

The implosion of the Research Works Act on February 27 was sudden and swift. Scientific publisher Elsevier - one of the legislation's biggest backers –announced that some of its journal authors, editors and reviewers were concerned that the measure was 'inconsistent' with the company's 'long-standing support' for expanding options for free and low-cost public access to scholarly literature. The sponsors of the act, California Republican Darrell Issa and New York Democrat Carolyn Maloney, dropped the bill after Elsevier's volte face. The lawmakers' motivations are now being questioned since it quickly followed Elsevier's withdrawal.

Elsevier and its senior executives made 31 contributions to members of the House in 2011, and Maloney received 12 of those worth a total of about $8500 (£5360), according to MapLight, a non-profit that tracks political donations. Issa received two such contributions adding up to $2000.

Before the Act died it managed to create a rift within the academic publishing industry, it is observed. The bill's chief supporter was the Association of American Publishers (AAP), which praised it for trying to prohibit federal agencies from unauthorised free public dissemination of journal articles.

Pressure on Elsevier and the Act's sponsors had intensified in recent months. More than 7,700 researchers signed a petition to boycott Elsevier, in part over its lobbying for the bill. In addition, more than 90 universities and patient advocacy groups recently wrote to members of the committee overseeing the bill to warn that its passage would 'impede public access to valuable research results from work funded by federal agencies'.

The International Association of Scientific, Technical and Medical Publishers (IASTMP) recently released a statement signed by 47 publishers, including Elsevier, which said that they are committed to supporting any sustainable model that will get scientific research the biggest audience possible.

Opponents of the Research Works Act said that it would hamper the free movement of scientific information. As the bill would forbid federal agencies' promotion of free access to private sector research work without the publisher's prior consent, it would have effectively repealed the National Institutes of Health's (NIH) public access policy. This requires grantees to post their final research papers online within a year of publication. It would also have prevented other agencies from adopting similar practices.

While opponents of the bill, which also included scholarly societies and library groups, are declaring victory, critics of the act claim that industries disrupted by new technology - like film or music - won't succeed if they tirelessly cling to old business models.

Search for more public access policy related information



Click here

Science, Nature publish NSABB statement on risk from avian flu research publication
- 02 Feb 2012

The US National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity (NSABB) has published a policy statement warning about the ‘unusually high magnitude’ risk from unrestricted publication of avian flu research. The NSABB statement was published online recently by the scientific journals Science and Nature, which will publish them in print later this month.

The NSABB is chaired by Dr. Paul Keim, Director of the Pathogen Genomics Division of the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen), and a Regents Professor of Biology at Northern Arizona University, and Director of NAU's Center for Microbial Genetics and Genomics.

The NSABB statement concerns recent, though as yet unpublished, research that showed how a strain of deadly avian flu virus could be made that is easily transmitted between mammals, including humans. Currently, the highly pathogenic A/H5N1 avian influenza virus — though a serious public health concern since its identification in Asia in 1997 — rarely infects people, because it is not easily transmitted among mammals.

The NSABB, which represents dozens of government and academic entities, was asked by the federal government to review the research prior to its publication because of its ‘dual use,’ meaning its potential for being used for good or bad purposes.

The NSABB weighed the benefits of the recent research, which could produce greater preparedness and potentially produce novel strategies leading to disease control, against the threat that details of the research could fall into the wrong hands.

It has stated concern that publishing the experiments in detail would provide information to someone or some organisation or government that would help them develop similar mammal-adapted influenza A/H5N1 viruses for harmful purposes. A pandemic or the deliberate release of a transmissible highly pathogenic influenza A/H5N1 virus would be an unimaginable catastrophe for which the world is currently inadequately prepared, it is feared.

The statement notes that science is in a revolutionary period of dramatically expanded technological capabilities, enabling the increased ability to manipulate the genetic material of microbes.

To access our daily STM news feed through your iPhone, iPad, or other smartphones, please visit www.myscoope.com for a mobile friendly reading experience.


American Society of Plant Biologists not for Research Works Act
- 31 Jan 2012

The American Society of Plant Biologists (ASPB) has stated that it does not endorse the Research Works Act (RWA; H.R. 3699), which was introduced into the US Congress late last year. If the RWA were to become law, it would essentially repeal the National Institutes of Health's (NIH) public access mandate, via which articles derived from NIH funding must be publicly released on the PubMed Central website within 12 months of publication. Further, it would forbid future implementation of any similar mandates at other agencies.

ASPB says its strong reservations regarding the RWA stem from the fact that the collaborative and inclusive approach articulated in an existing public law - the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010 - represents a far more appropriate path forward. That law is seen to take into consideration the needs and wants of all stakeholders, including publishers. The process envisioned in COMPETES is already under way and beginning to bear fruit, according to ASPB, which feels privileged to be participating in preliminary conversations regarding US federal agency objectives regarding public access to research.

Moreover, ASPB determined many years ago that it would be consistent with both the Society's mission and its business needs to publicly release the entire content of both its journals - Plant Physiology and The Plant Cell - 12 months after an issue's publication. It has been doing so for over a decade, both via the journals' own websites and on the PubMed Central site. In the meantime, ASPB continues to experiment with and explore novel approaches toward expanding access to its journals' content, including very-low-cost article rental models and a membership-based free access option.

Although unilateral imposition of public release time frames is not an appropriate way to achieve public access, ASPB feels that the tenor, tone and timing of the RWA are unhelpful and that the bill is unnecessary at this time.

To access our daily STM news feed through your iPhone, iPad, or other smartphones, please visit www.myscoope.com for a mobile friendly reading experience.


Click here

AAAS not endorsing Research Works Act
- 20 Jan 2012

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), a general scientific society and publisher of the journal Science, has reaffirmed its support for the current public access policy of the US National Institutes of Health (NIH).

Contrary to recent news reports, AAAS does not endorse the Research Works Act, which would prevent the NIH from requiring its grantees to make biomedical research findings freely available via the National Library of Medicine's website.

According to Alan I. Leshner, AAAS Chief Executive Officer and Executive Publisher of Science, the current NIH public access policy provides an important mechanism for ensuring that the public has access to biomedical research findings. He further said the policy provides appropriate support for the intellectual property rights of publishers who have invested much in science communication.

AAAS, like many organisations, is a member of the Association of American Publishers, but it does not endorse all of the latter's policies or statements.

In addition to publishing Science, AAAS conducts an array of programmes in the fields of science diplomacy, science in the service of human rights, science education, science policy and ethics, and public engagement with science and technology.

Earlier this week, publishers Nature Publishing Group and Digital Science stated that they too did not support the Research Works Act.

Search for more public access policies

To access our daily STM news feed through your iPhone, iPad, or other smartphones, please visit www.myscoope.com for a mobile friendly reading experience.


Click here

Copyright Alliances welcomes US bill overturning free access to publicly funded research
- 16 Jan 2012

The Copyright Alliance has applauded US Representatives Darrell Issa and Carolyn Maloney 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.

In a recently issued statement, the Alliance said that 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. A 2008 mandate at the National Institutes of Health requires making the content of publishers' value-added, peer-reviewed journal articles freely available online within 12 months of publication. This, according to the Alliance, disregards the significant value added by the private-sector publisher whose activities are not funded by the government.

The statement further said that this reversal of centuries of copyright law occurred without input from the affected communities, and without benefit of oversight by congressional committees with expertise and responsibility for copyright laws and enforcement. This bipartisan bill, according to the Alliance, ensures that privately-funded research works that describe or interpret federal research and are intended for public publishing will receive that treatment. Further, it is seen to preserve the rights of research funders and publishers.

The Copyright Alliance is a non-profit, non-partisan public interest and educational organisation representing artists and creators across the spectrum of copyright disciplines. It includes over 40 trade association, companies and guilds, and 8,000 individual artists and creators.

To access our daily STM news feed through your iPhone, iPad, or other smartphones, please visit www.myscoope.com for a mobile friendly reading experience.


Click here

Open access advocates seek to block Research Works Act in US
- 09 Jan 2012

A new bill called the Research Works Act has been introduced into the US House of Representatives. The bill is designed to roll back the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Public Access Policy and block the development of similar policies at other federal agencies. Co-sponsored by senators Darrell Issa and Carolyn Maloney, the bill has been referred to the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

Advocates of public access, like the Alliance for Taxpayer Access, have called on supporters to speak out against this proposed legislation. Supporters have also been asked to take this opportunity to express support for the expansion of the NIH public access policy to other federal science and technology agencies. The Alliance for Taxpayer Access is administered by the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition (SPARC).

Essentially, the bill seeks to prohibit federal agencies from conditioning their grants to require that articles reporting on publicly funded research be made accessible to the public online. The Association of American Publishers (AAP) and its Professional and Scholarly Publishing Division have endorsed the bill.

To access our daily STM news feed through your iPhone, iPad, or other smartphones, please visit www.myscoope.com for a mobile friendly reading experience.

Click here

US Senators seek investigation into Google’s search results
- 20 Dec 2011

US Senators Herb Kohl and Mike Lee are reportedly urging the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to investigate whether Internet search services provider Google, Inc., US, unfairly favours its own properties in search results.

Kohl and Lee, both members of the Senate’s antitrust subcommittee, have jointly signed a five-page letter to FTC Chairman Jonathan Leibowitz calling for ‘serious scrutiny’ of Google’s business practices. More specifically, both members have called for an investigation to see if Google is acting anti-competitively when its own properties are positioned highly in search results.

In their letter, the Senators say they ‘take no position’ on Google’s practices, but they do cite some of the arguments that were brought up by Google’s critics in the September hearing.

Given Google’s dominant market share in Internet search, any such bias would raise serious questions as to whether the company is seeking to leverage its search dominance into adjacent markets, in a manner potentially contrary to antirust law, it has been noted.

In response to similar charges, Google representatives have earlier argued that the company does not have separate products outside of its search service. However, critics point out that Google actually hosts a page titled ‘Products’, where it lists all of its offerings, including web search.

Search for more Google related information

To access our daily STM news feed through your iPhone, iPad, or other smartphones, please visit www.myscoope.com for a mobile friendly reading experience.


UK taking steps to make publicly funded research freely available online
- 12 Dec 2011

The UK government's Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) recently released a report – titled 'Innovation and Research Strategy for Growth' - stating that all scientific research funded by British taxpayers will be made available online free of charge. The website, to be called 'Gateway to Research', will eventually incorporate research funded by other bodies, under the government's plan.

It has been observed that much of the high-energy physics research community currently uses a system of open access online publishing. The arxiv.org website, an online repository set up in 1991, offers almost all high-energy physics research for free. Despite this, established physics journals have reported no decrease in subscriptions.

Janet Finch, former vice-chair of Keele University, UK, has been assigned the responsibility to investigate how the UK might set up something similar for all its taxpayer-funded science. She is expected to report in the first half of 2012 but, meanwhile, the UK Research Councils will be reminded that research papers from the work they fund should be made as widely available as possible.

The announcement is reportedly part of a growing trend towards open access, following the success of the free journals PLoS One and Nature Scientific Reports.

Search for more Industry study reports

To access our daily STM news feed through your iPhone, iPad, or other smartphones, please visit www.myscoope.com for a mobile friendly reading experience.


EC opens formal proceedings to investigate sales of e-books by five publishers
- 07 Dec 2011

The European Commission (EC) has opened formal antitrust proceedings to investigate whether five international publishers have, possibly with the help of Apple, engaged in anti-competitive practices affecting the sale of e-books in the European Economic Area (EEA)1, in breach of EU antitrust rules. The opening of proceedings means that the EC will treat the case as a matter of priority. It does not prejudge the outcome of the investigation. The publishers include Hachette Livre (Lagardère Publishing, France), Harper Collins (News Corp., US), Simon & Schuster (CBS Corp., US), Penguin (Pearson Group, UK) and Verlagsgruppe Georg von Holzbrinck (owner of inter alia Macmillan, Germany).

The Commission will in particular investigate whether these publishing groups and Apple have engaged in illegal agreements or practices that would have the object or the effect of restricting competition in the EU or in the EEA. It is also examining the character and terms of the agency agreements entered into by the above named five publishers and retailers for the sale of e-books. The Commission has concerns that these practices may breach EU antitrust rules that prohibit cartels and restrictive business practices (Article 101 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union – TFEU).

The duration of antitrust investigations depends on a number of factors, including the complexity of each case, the extent to which the undertakings concerned cooperate with the Commission and the exercise of the rights of defence.

In March 2011, the Commission carried out unannounced inspections at the premises of several companies active in the e-book publishing sector in several member states. To date, the Commission and the UK Office of Fair Trading (OFT) have investigated in parallel and in close cooperation whether arrangements for the sale of e-books may breach competition rules. Before the Commission opened formal proceedings, the OFT had closed its investigation on grounds of administrative priority. The OFT has made a substantial contribution to the e-books investigation and will continue to co-operate closely with the Commission going forward.

Search for more Antitrust issues related information

To access our daily STM news feed through your iPhone, iPad, or other smartphones, please visit www.myscoope.com for a mobile friendly reading experience.


Click here

Director of US Copyright Office announces priorities, special projects for next two years
- 26 Oct 2011

Non-profit copyright licensing solutions provider Copyright Clearance Center, Inc. (CCC), US, has welcomed the announcement by the US Register of Copyrights, Maria Pallante, of her priorities for the next two years. Register of Copyrights Maria A. Pallante recently made public her office’s priorities and special projects through October, 2013. The paper articulates 17 priorities in the areas of copyright policy and administrative practice, as well as 10 new projects designed to improve the quality and efficiency of the U.S. Copyright Office’s services in the 21st century.

Copyright industries are seen to be a critical part of the US and global economies. Advances in technology are accelerating options for creating, distributing, consuming, sharing and preserving content while globally, laws have not kept pace with technology advances. For more than 20 years, the important principle of copyright which protects the work of authors and creators has faced increasing turmoil. Technology has driven other developments such as eBooks and the growth of "user-generated" content in the digital environment.

It is felt that there is an urgent need for legislative solutions to address the most challenging copyright issues. These include issues ranging from clarifying the use of Orphan Works to streamlining registration for groups of copyrighted works to addressing mass digitisation of books.

CCC actively engages both the Register and her staff on issues such as orphan works, mass digitisation of content, effects of different copyright rules around the world and the promotion of licensing as a solution for the needs of both copyright users and rightsholders.

University of Michigan to rework orphan works identification as project gets suspended
- 26 Sep 2011

The University of Michigan has suspended its orphan works digitisation project in response to the copyright infringement lawsuit filed against it and four other universities, including Cornell. According to Paul Courant, Dean of Libraries at the University of Michigan, the system for identifying orphan works is now being rebuilt to ensure that no mistakes are repeated. The re-examination of orphan works has already started, but there is no concrete date for when the university will next put up a set of works for use by its communities.

The lawsuit, filed on September 12, claims that Google and the five universities — Cornell, the University of Michigan, Indiana University, the University of Wisconsin and the University of California — have digitised about 7 million books illegally. The majority of the contested texts are known as ‘orphan works’ — books that are still subject to copyright but whose copyright holders are unknown or cannot be located.

Paul Aiken J.D., Executive Director of the Authors Guild, said the suspension was a start to appeasing the authors’ societies and individual authors that filed the suit. It did not, however, reconcile all of the accusations of the lawsuit, he said.

Ed Van Gemert, Deputy Director of Libraries at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, said Michigan was the first of the five universities being sued to respond to the lawsuit because it was the leader in the HathiTrust project — a collaborative initiative of universities that aspires to build a digital archive. Michigan developed the process to examine and identify copyright material for possible orphan works, opening up access.

Both parties agreed that the goal is to protect the rights of the authors whose work is being digitised. The Authors Guild presently believes that the only way to do this is through litigation, according to Aiken.

To access our daily STM news feed through your iPhone, iPad, or other smartphones, please visit www.myscoope.com for a mobile friendly reading experience.


Click here

Second Circuit ruling limiting First Sale doctrine seen to affect libraries
- 08 Sep 2011

The Second Circuit Court of Appeals recently upheld a lower court decision finding that the 'First Sale' doctrine in the US copyright law - the provision that enables libraries to lend and consumers to re-sell books they have lawfully purchased - does not apply to works manufactured outside the US. The verdict has reportedly put librarians' and book re-sellers' core activities now in question.

The publishing industry has long fought the 'illegal importation of foreign works,' especially textbooks. While the verdict is seen to stand as a major victory for the publishing industry, critics say the decision could harm libraries and encourage outsourcing of jobs.

The ruling comes in the case of John Wiley & Sons, Inc. v. Supap Kirtsaeng, in which Kirtsaeng, a Thai-born US student, was accused of importing and re-selling foreign editions of textbooks, made for exclusive sale abroad, in the US market via eBay. In its verdict, a three-judge panel of the Second Circuit affirmed by a 2-1 margin that Kirtsaeng 'could not avail himself of the first sale doctrine,' because language in the statute says that products must be 'lawfully made.'

According to a report published in the Publishers Weekly, the court ruled that the words 'lawfully made' limits First Sale 'specifically and exclusively to works that are made in territories in which the Copyright Act is law, and not to foreign-manufactured works.'

The verdict is the second decision in a year to limit the First Sale doctrine. In December 2010, the Supreme Court deadlocked 4-4 in the case of Costco Wholesale Corporation v. Omega, SA, the net effect of which was to affirm a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision that enjoined big-box store Costco from selling copyrighted, foreign-made Omega watches, authorised for sale only in foreign territories, in the US market. Because the Supreme Court deadlocked, however, the Ninth Circuit ruling is non-binding on other circuits. The Second Circuit ruling, observers say, goes further than the Omega decision, and could upend decades of common practice for libraries and used booksellers.

According to experts, the ruling creates uncertainty and gives publishers yet another potential element of control when it comes to library usage, and at a time when the shift to licensed access of e-books is already impacting the ability of libraries to purchase and lend content.

To access our daily STM news feed through your iPhone, iPad, or other smartphones, please visit www.myscoope.com for a mobile friendly reading experience.


RSC responds to UK Science and Technology Committee report on peer review
- 29 Jul 2011

RSC Publishing has announced that its acting managing director, Dr. James Milne, has responded to the UK Parliament's Science and Technology Committee report on peer review.

The report is said to clearly highlight and confirm the essential role of pre-publication peer review, a view shared and supported by the RSC. According to Dr. Milne, the suggested experimentation with post publication peer review to supplement pre-publication review is an area the RSC regularly evaluates, with linking from articles to most social networking sites.

The report highlights the need for work to be scientifically sound and reproducible, suggesting this should be the gold standard for all referees and editors to aim for. While the RSC supports this as a baseline requirement, Dr. Milne said that there is a need to include assessment of additional factors such as novelty, application and ethical integrity too, which remains vital in identifying and publishing the highest quality research.

The RSC recently launched a new journal - RSC Advances - with the goals of assessing papers against the baseline standards suggested. The journal will publish high quality papers that are judged to be scientifically sound, from across the breadth of the chemical sciences. It is claimed to be the first online 'subject repository style journal' for this field, with strong submissions to date.

The RSC, through its free chemical database ChemSpider, is open to support the goal of making data associated with publically funded research freely available. Researchers can be encouraged to deposit chemical structures in this database that already holds more than 26 million compounds. The RSC supports this free chemical structure database as a service to the community.

Search for more Peer review related information

To access our daily STM news feed through your iPhone, iPad, or other smartphones, please visit www.myscoope.com for a mobile friendly reading experience.


Click here

US govt. approves Google bid for Nortel patents, talks with Apple, RIM continue
- 15 Jun 2011

The US Department of Justice (DoJ) has reportedly concluded an antitrust investigation into Google's bid for a collection of wireless-related patents from Canadian telecommunications-equipment maker Nortel. The DoJ approved the bid, while talks with Research in Motion (RIM) and Apple over their potential bids remain ongoing.

According to a report published in the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), Google has been given the go-ahead on its $900 million starting bid in an auction of over 6,000 patents from Nortel.

Earlier this month, the WSJ reported that the DoJ had not found any 'major competitive' issues with Google. The department is reportedly worried about RIM or Apple winning the auction because both have a reputation for being aggressive with intellectual property.

The auction is scheduled for June 20, with Google's 'stalking horse' bid to serve as the opening amount. The patent trove contains key components of the fourth-generation Long Term Evolution wireless technology.

Earlier this week, Microsoft, Verizon and AT&T filed objections to the sale. The companies claimed that the sale would affect essential technologies and provide the winner with an unfair advantage over its competitors. Nokia and HP have also filed objections.

Search for more Google related Information

To access our daily STM news feed through your iPhone, iPad, or other smartphones, please visit www.myscoope.com for a mobile friendly reading experience.


Inaugural publication of new publication series to complement OITP Policy Briefs released
- 03 Jun 2011

The Office for Information Technology Policy (OITP) has released the first publication of OITP Perspectives, a new publication series created to complement OITP Policy Briefs. The publication, 'Digitizing Hidden Collections in Public Libraries,' was written by Gwen Glazer, staff writer/editor and social media coordinator at Cornell University. Glazer also served as the Google Policy Fellow for OITP in summer 2010.

According to OITP Director Alan Inouye, the purpose of the new series is to provide an outlet for topics that are more specialised than those covered by policy briefs. OITP Perspectives publications will be intended for primary digital release.

Glazer's piece offers an overview of digitisation challenges facing small and medium-sized libraries, presents options for large-scale digitisation projects, and suggests ways to share newly created digital collections.

To access our daily STM news feed through your iPhone, iPad, or other smartphones, please visit www.myscoope.com for a mobile friendly reading experience.


Click here

EC publishes policy blueprint to protect service providers' intellectual property rights
- 26 May 2011

The European Commission (EC) recently published a policy blueprint for dealing with intellectual property (IP) rights. The coordinated EU approach promises among other things to focus on service providers in the fight against online copyright infringement.

Piracy and counterfeiting are seen to pose a threat to the EU's economy by undercutting the price of authentic products and making it harder for honest producers to stay in business. To counter the problem, the EC proposes to modernise the EU's IP right laws, which protect literary, musical and artistic works (copyright), discoveries and inventions (patents), and words, phrases, symbols and designs (trademarks).

People would reportedly benefit from easier access to protected works and the assurance that products and services they buy are genuine and safe.

IP rights are stated to be vital for Europe's 25 million small and mid-size businesses - protecting their investment in new products and services, helping them secure access to financing and increasing fair competition. Businesses and inventors would benefit from a simpler patent system, which is currently seen to be too complex and costly. A switch away from counterfeit and pirated goods to legitimate trading would also boost tax revenues for EU governments.

The proposed changes include creating a unitary patent-protection system so inventors would need to register only one patent covering most EU countries - reducing costs and red tape; protecting brands more effectively through a modernised trademark system that is simpler, faster, more effective, efficient and consistent; and easing access to copyright-protected works, particularly online and including Europe's cultural heritage.

The approach also sets out a more effective enforcement strategy within the EU, at its borders and in partnership with non-EU countries. The EC will make specific proposals before 2014.

Search for more intellectual property related information

To access our daily STM news feed through your iPhone, iPad, or other smartphones, please visit www.myscoope.com for a mobile friendly reading experience.


Click here

British Library welcomes Hargreaves Review recommendations on IP framework
- 19 May 2011

The British Library has welcomed the positive recommendations made to the Government by the Hargreaves Review, proposing an intellectual property (IP) framework designed to increase growth and innovation in the UK.

The report has recognised the importance of copyright in the digital age to education and research. Hargreaves' recommendations, including those relating to the digitisation of orphan works, text and data mining and digital preservation, are expected to have an immediate benefit for research, life-long learning and teaching. Dame Lynne Brindley, Chief Executive of the British Library, particularly welcomed the recommendations for legislation to ensure that hard won copyright exceptions are protected and cannot be overridden by individual contracts. She also praised the proposal to create the world's first Digital Copyright Exchange by the end of 2012.

The British Library's submission to the Hargreaves Review called for reforms to make it easier for cultural institutions to digitise orphan works - including millions of items held in national collections where the rights-holder cannot be identified - and thereby deliver benefits for research and education. The Library also supported measures to allow text and data mining with a view to encouraging medical, environmental and other scientific research. These would be along with streamlined processes for clearing rights for commercially-produced works to be used in digital libraries and other cultural projects.

The Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers and the UK's Joint Information Systems Committee have also welcomed the recommendations.

Of particular interest to publishers will be the rejection of US-style 'fair-use' laws, support for the Digital Economy Act, the creation of a Digital Copyright Exchange and harmonisation with EU laws, particularly copyright exceptions. In addition, it was recommended that accessibility to the IP system for small companies be improved, including lowering the cost barriers.

Search for more Copyrights related information

To access our daily STM news feed through your iPhone, iPad, or other smartphones, please visit www.myscoope.com for a mobile friendly reading experience.


Click here

Online publication seen to facilitate easier publication of sound scientific articles
- 12 May 2011

Online publication may reduce delays and ease the publication of sound science, according to a report in Times Higher Education quoting Ronal Laskey, VP of the Academy of Medical Sciences and Professor Emeritus at Cambridge University. It is expected to stem the "dramatic" rise in the amount of time authors are obliged to spend defending their papers from criticism by referees, Prof. Laskey informed the first hearing of the UK's Commons Science and Technology Committee's inquiry into peer review. The engine of peer review had not seized but was misfiring, he was quoted as saying.

There has been a dramatic rise in referees' demands over the past decade. The facility offered by e-publishing for supplementary material to be added is said to part of the reason for the rise in referees' demands. According to Prof. Laskey, the use of publications for "proxy" purposes, such as promotion decisions, meant that scientists were under severe pressure to publish in journals with high impact factors. The high rejection rate of such journals resulted in excessive effort going into trying to satisfy editors and referees, rather than pursuing the highest priority science.

He also expressed concern that at least some of the requests for extra experiments were motivated by unscrupulous reviewers attempting to slow down a rival's research. While some journals were beginning to introduce limits on supplementary materials, he doubted that this would be a complete answer. Emergence of journals such as PLoS ONE, an online journal that is stated to review papers solely for their soundness rather than their impact, could also help, he said.

On the select committee's inquiry, he said that the peer review system deserved attention. But he added that fear of a legislative response explained the 'cautious' treatment of the committee's questions by the witnesses at the first hearing, all of whom represented learned societies.

Search for more Peer review realed information

To access our daily STM news feed through your iPhone, iPad, or other smartphones, please visit www.myscoope.com for a mobile friendly reading experience.


Apple, Google defend smartphone privacy practices at US Senate hearing
- 11 May 2011

US-based Google, Inc. and Apple, Inc. reportedly defended their privacy practices during a US Senate hearing on May 10, 2011. The hearing, 'Protecting Mobile Privacy: Your Smartphones, Tablets, Cell Phones and Your Privacy,' followed revelations by British researchers and the Wall Street Journal that the iPhone and Android smartphones may transmit user location data to Apple and Google, respectively.

Google was represented by its Director of Public Policy, Alan Davidson, and Apple by its Vice President of software, "Bud" Tribble. Both executives emphasised that their users had the ability to control the collection and use of location-related data gathered by their smartphones. The hearing of the newly created Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and the Law, sought to examine the situation of the privacy landscape as regards the mobile sphere.

Senator Al Franken pressed Tribble hard on the issue of whether or not iPhones do or do not track location. The hearing also focused on the vast ecosystem of third-party applications that populate both the iPhone and Android ecosystems. Such third-party apps are seen to often gain access to location related and other personally identifiable data. They may also be able to share the information without having to tell the consumer they are doing so, it is feared.

Senator Chuck Schumer also grilled both companies about their policies regarding how apps are approved for their respective stores, focusing on apps that provide information about where sobriety checkpoints are located.

Search for more Google related information

To access our daily STM news feed through your iPhone, iPad, or other smartphones, please visit www.myscoope.com for a mobile friendly reading experience.


US Senate panel to question Apple and Google on privacy protection in mobile devices
- 10 May 2011

A US Senate panel is reportedly set to question representatives from Apple and Google on what actions the companies plan to take to protect consumers' privacy while using mobile devices. According to Sen. Al Franken, Chairman of the Judiciary Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology and the Law, the hearing is the first step in making certain that federal laws protecting consumers' privacy keep pace with advances in technology. This is particularly so in the context of mobile devices such as smartphones, tablets and cell phones.

Franken further said that, while advances in mobile technology let Americans stay connected, the same know-how allows the devices to gather sensitive information about users, including recording their movements.

The hearing follows revelations by British researchers and the Wall Street Journal that the iPhone and Android smartphones may transmit user location data to Apple and Google, respectively.

However, according to Google spokesperson Chris Gaither, the company gives users notice and control over all location collection and sharing on Android-powered gadgets.

Search for more Google related information

To access our daily STM news feed through your iPhone, iPad, or other smartphones, please visit www.myscoope.com for a mobile friendly reading experience.


US FTC may launch investigation on Google's dominance of the Internet search industry
- 02 May 2011

The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is reportedly preparing an investigation of Google Inc's dominance of the Internet search industry. Citing three people familiar with the matter, media reports indicate that the FTC is alerting high-tech companies to gather information for the probe.

The agency has reportedly informed the companies of its plans to issue civil investigative demands for the information. The demands are similar to subpoenas.

The FTC, which has been considering a broad investigation, was awaiting a decision by the Justice Department on whether it will dispute Google's planned acquisition of ITA Software, Inc., an airline flight and ticket information provider, before proceeding with any probe.

Earlier this month, the Justice Department approved Google's $700 million purchase of ITA subject to the condition that it makes travel data available to search-engine rivals and let the government review complaints that it's acting unfairly.

Google is facing increasing scrutiny from regulators globally as it bolsters its search business. The European Commission and Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott have also begun probes into its business practices. The company is also facing antitrust complaints in South Korea due to the increasing dominance of its Android software for mobile phones.

Search for more Google related information

To access our daily STM news feed through your iPhone, iPad, or other smartphones, please visit www.myscoope.com for a mobile friendly reading experience.


US Supreme Court to hear case on limiting use of prescription records for marketing
- 26 Apr 2011

The US Supreme Court is slated to hear a case that could put an electronic silence on the use of some pharmacy data to target physicians based on their identifiable prescription records. Data mining firms and their drug company clients reportedly use the information for marketing programmes. These firms are challenging a Vermont law limiting use of doctors' prescription records for targeted marketing programs by drug companies.

Currently, three US states - Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire - have enacted laws restricting marketing to doctors based on pharmacies' prescription data that identifies physicians.

Passed in 2007, the Vermont law provides physicians the right to consent before their prescription information can be sold or used for marketing purpose. The law has been challenged by several data collection firms, including IMS Health and Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America. A federal court had upheld the law, but it was overturned late last year by an appellate court.

Now, the Supreme Court is slated to hear arguments in the case William Sorrell, attorney general of Vermont vs. IMS Health Inc et al. on whether Vermont's prescription data confidentiality law violates the First Amendment's free speech protection.

Although the pharmacy data in question doesn't identify patients whose information is protected under HIPAA, the debated data does identify physicians. This is seen to allow drug companies who acquire the information from data collection companies to analyse the prescription writing trends and histories of doctors in an attempt to develop marketing strategies that target certain doctors.

These marketing activities can include identifying trends among doctors who tend to prescribe certain popular prescription drugs from certain makers, as well as doctors who appear to have changed their preferences of specific name brand medications to generics.

To access our daily STM news feed through your iPhone, iPad, or other smartphones, please visit www.myscoope.com for a mobile friendly reading experience.


Korean firms file antitrust complaint against Google over Android use in mobile devices
- 15 Apr 2011

Internet search services company Google, Inc., US, is reportedly facing antitrust complaints in South Korea due to the increasing dominance of its Android software for mobile phones. In a joint complaint to South Korea's Fair Trade Commission, Korean Internet portal operators NHN Corp. and Daum Communications Corp. said Google was unfairly impeding competition by using its status as a leading smartphone operating system provider, it has been reported.

The two companies, which operate South Korea's two largest Internet search sites, filed complaints against Google for blocking domestic phone carriers and manufacturers from embedding their search apps in Android devices.

Google is facing increasing scrutiny from regulators globally as it bolsters its search business. The US Federal Trade Commission is reportedly considering a broad investigation into the company's dominance of the Internet search industry. The European Commission and Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott have also begun probes into its business practices.

Search for more Google related information

To access our daily STM news feed through your iPhone, iPad, or other smartphones, please visit www.myscoope.com for a mobile friendly reading experience.


US FTC may launch antitrust probe on Google's dominance of web search industry
- 05 Apr 2011

The US' Federal Trade Commission (FTC) may soon join the list of government agencies investigating Google's dominance of the Internet search industry. Citing two people familiar with the matter, media reports indicate that the FTC is considering an antitrust investigation of Google in this regard.

The FTC is awaiting a decision by the Justice Department on whether it will dispute Google's planned acquisition of ITA Software, Inc., an airline flight and ticket information provider, before proceeding with any probe.

According to a Bloomberg report, the FTC and the Justice Department share responsibility for investigating antitrust claims and could negotiate which agency would lead a major investigation into Google. The Justice Department is expected to issue a decision soon on the $700 million ITA deal.

According to a ComScore market research report, Google fields nearly 67 percent of Internet searches in the US. This domination has led to increased scrutiny of the company over the past several years. Officials in Texas and the European Commission have launched investigations into Google's search dominance, while Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine is considering such a probe.

Earlier last week rival Microsoft Corp. filed an official complaint with the EU, claiming that Google engages in a 'pattern of actions' that impede competition unfairly. The company gave several examples of what it believes are anticompetitive acts.

Lawmakers including Senator Richard Blumenthal, a Connecticut Democrat, and Senator Mike Lee, a Utah Republican, have urged the Senate Judiciary subcommittee on antitrust to hold a hearing on Google's dominance of Internet businesses.

Search for more Google related Information

To access our daily STM news feed through your iPhone, iPad, or other smartphones, please visit www.myscoope.com for a mobile friendly reading experience.


Eminem's legal victory may set course for sharing of digital revenues with artists
- 29 Mar 2011

The US Supreme Court has reportedly refused to hear an appeal, letting stand a lower court's decision that digital music should be treated as a licence. Though the artist at the centre of the suit is rapper Eminem, thousands of older artists who have not released an album in decades could become some of the biggest beneficiaries of the case.

The courts ruling that downloads, such as those from iTunes, are music 'licences,' not sales, made a big difference to Eminem because his 1995 contract entitles him to a full 50 percent of license revenue, and only 12 - 20 percent of sales. According to a New York Times report, several other artists, signed before the year 2000, are in the same boat. The fast-evolving law around digital downloads has reportedly caught the music industry asking for different treatment in different situations.

The legal distinction between whether digital content is a "sale" or a "licence" is reportedly hard to understate. Earlier in 2010, in the Vernor v. Autodesk case, the same appeals court that considered the Eminem case found that software sales weren't really sales at all - they were actually a licence.

The entertainment industry cheered that ruling then. Digital content means that essentially everything is being turned into software. The ruling, therefore, makes it much more likely that copyright owners will be able to maintain control of digital content even after they sell it. This will allow copyright owners to prevent re-sale and impose other restrictions on how the content is used.

Eminem's record label, the Universal Music Group, has emphasised that this is a narrow ruling that only applies to Eminem's contract. Other artists may have similarly constructed deals. It is expected that they will also examine legal avenues to make similar claims.

To access our daily STM news feed through your iPhone, iPad, or other smartphones, please visit www.myscoope.com for a mobile friendly reading experience.


Righthaven loses copyright lawsuit filed against non-profit organisation
- 22 Mar 2011

Copyright enforcement firm Righthaven, US, reportedly lost a lawsuit last week in a ruling that a nonprofit's reposting of an entire newspaper article was a lawful fair use. The ruling, if upheld on appeal, could possibly change the way that copyrighted newspaper articles get treated on the web.

Righthaven is seen to have garnered controversy by suing 250 different blogs and websites over newspaper copyrights. With the latest ruling, the company has lost its second case. The first finding of fair use was over a website that only quoted about 25 percent of a Las Vegas Review-Journal (R-J) story.

In general, 'fair use' is the rule that justifies partial use of a copyrighted work. Fair use allows for quotation in a book review or news report. However, in certain situations, judges have found 100 percent of a work to be fair use. In a hearing on March 18, US District Judge James Mahan found this case as one of those circumstances. He ruled that it was legal for Oregon non-profit Center for Intercultural Organizing (CIO) to post a full copy of a newspaper article from R-J on its website. The judge based his decision on several factors including that CIO serves a completely different market than the R-J.

Search for more Copyrights related information

To access our daily STM news feed through your iPhone, iPad, or other smartphones, please visit www.myscoope.com for a mobile friendly reading experience.


Canadian government unveils transparency initiative with limited scope
- 22 Mar 2011

Long accused of systemic secrecy and reluctance to disclose information on issues ranging from food safety to drug approval, the Canadian government has unveiled certain transparency initiatives, according to the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ). The initiatives include datasets like ones on the number of dairy cows in Canada and soldiers of World War I.

Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) are not among the 10 departments and agencies posting data at a new web portal. Moreover, licensing restrictions and requirements around what data is to be shared are seen to make the initiative substantially narrower than those now underway in other nations like the US.

The initiative will see the federal government share the data it collects in a 'more useful format,' proactively release information about its activities on an ongoing basis, and give Canadians 'a stronger say' in policies and priorities through expanding 'Web 2.0 technologies,' the government claimed in unveiling its plans (http://open.gc.ca/open-ouvert/aop-apgo-eng.asp).

Officials also launched an Open Government website with links to preexisting disclosure pages on various department sites (http://open.gc.ca). Additionally, they kicked off an open data pilot project to provide the public with 'single-window access' to select federal datasets (http://www.data.gc.ca/default.asp?lang=En&n=F9B7A1E3-1).

The initiative may constitute compliance with the government's stated commitment to the OECD to launch a new portal to provide one-stop access to federal datasets by the fall of 2010 (www.oecd.org/dataoecd/48/56/46342001.pdf).

No rationale was reportedly provided for excluding Health Canada and PHAC from the pilot project. Only select datasets from 10 federal departments will be made available via the new portal, only one of which - Citizenship and Immigration Canada - was among the top five recipients of Access to Information requests between 2009 and 2010 (www.infosource.gc.ca/bulletin/2010/b/bulletin33b/bulletin33b02-eng.asp). Health Canada received the fourth most requests during that period.

According to the CMAJ, Health Canada recently come under fire from health experts and open government policy experts for keeping the data that informs its decision-making processes under wraps in the name of protecting industry interests.

While most of the information currently posted on Canada's new open data portal is machine-readable, some maps and older data are posted as PDF documents or images. Users must also agree to a licence in order to access the portal. That licence contains restrictions on an individual or organisation's ability to 'disassemble, decompile or reverse engineer the data made available.' No such clauses are found in open government licences required by other nations, the CMAJ has pointed out.

To access our daily STM news feed through your iPhone, iPad, or other smartphones, please visit www.myscoope.com for a mobile friendly reading experience.


Click here

Social networking, search sites may face EU legal action over data privacy
- 17 Mar 2011

Social networking sites and search engines such as Facebook and Google may face legal action if they fail to obey planned EU data privacy rules, according to EU justice chief Viviane Reding.

Reding will propose an overhaul of the EU's 16-year-old laws on data protection in the coming months. The move is expected to enforce more safeguards on how personal information is used. According to a Reuters report, much of the revamp would target sites such as Facebook, Google, Microsoft or Yahoo. These sites are reportedly raising concern on how they use information they collect about users' personal habits.

Reding wants to force companies to allow Internet users to withdraw any data held by the websites, calling it the 'right to be forgotten'. She also wants to make the firms provide more information on what data is collected and for what purpose. Further, she feels agencies watching over privacy issues in EU countries should be given more powers to enforce compliance outside Europe as many of the companies are based in the US or hold data on servers there.

Reding, who oversees justice and human rights in the executive European Commission, said that to enforce EU law, national privacy watchdogs shall be endowed with powers to investigate and engage in legal proceedings against non-EU data controllers. Her proposals, expected before July, would have to be approved by EU governments and by the European Parliament.

To access our daily STM news feed through your iPhone, iPad, or other smartphones, please visit www.myscoope.com for a mobile friendly reading experience.


Republican US Senator calls for antitrust probe against Google
- 14 Mar 2011

Senator Mike Lee, a Utah Republican, recently added his support to a growing number of lawmakers seeking congressional hearings on Google Inc.'s business practices. The move comes just one day after the US Senate Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy, and Consumer Rights vowed to ensure fair competition in the Internet search market dominated by Google.

Senator Lee is the second upper chamber legislator, in the last two days, to have called for a close scrutiny on possible anti-competitive conduct by Google. In a letter dated March 10 to the chairman of the Senate Judiciary antitrust subcommittee, Herb Kohl, Lee mentioned his 'strong concerns' that Google is abusing its dominant market position.

Kohl, a Wisconsin Democrat, recently said in a statement that he would examine allegations raised by e-commerce websites that compete with Google. The websites earlier claimed that they are being treated unfairly in search ranking and in their ability to purchase search advertising.

Google has also drawn congressional criticism for the accidental collection of people's personal computer information from unsecured wireless networks. Representative Joe Barton, a Texas Republican who is a co-chairman of the Congressional Privacy Caucus, has called for a hearing on the matter.

Search for more Google related information

To access our daily STM news feed through your iPhone, iPad, or other smartphones, please visit www.myscoope.com for a mobile friendly reading experience.


Chinese authorities determined to increase supervision and peer evaluation of academic journals
- 28 Feb 2011

Chinese authorities have reportedly ordered a number of academic journals and magazines to cease publication. In a new attack on sub-standard academic papers in China, the General Administration of Press and Publications (GAPP), the government agency that regulates overseas news and other publications, decided to penalise eight journals and ordered six to cease publication. These include Heilongjiang Science and Technology Information, China High Technology Enterprise and Today's Science Parks.

During a meeting last week, GAPP found that the publications were unable to guarantee the quality of academic papers. The 'punishment' meted out by GAPP to journals that fall short on quality, but are not ordered to be closed, reportedly include reconstituting the editorial board.

The Chinese authorities are determined to increase the supervision and the peer evaluation of academic journals. These are areas in which China is facing criticism internationally. The government reportedly wants to reduce the rapidly increasing number of journals published and bring in more quality control.

In 2010, the Chinese government said that as of January 2011, new regulations would be in place to terminate the publication of poor journals. These would include the consolidation of academic publishing groups into 5-10 large publishers.

According to academics, almost every science organisation in China publishes its own journal. A survey conducted last year by four members of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, revealed that academic journals can earn tens of millions of yuan a year by charging a publishing fee. The survey estimated the output value of published papers to be 180 to 240 million yuan (US$27.4 to $36.5 million) in 2009.

The National Natural Science Foundation in Beijing has complained for years that low-quality scientific journals have been hindering Chinese science. The Foundation has suggested that as many as a third of them should be shut down.

Other organisations have also openly said that the quality of research papers in China, which can be easily published in sub-standard journals, has been damaging the country's research reputation abroad. China's more reputable journals also have problems with quality. More than 30 percent of papers submitted to the Journal of Zhejiang University-Science, in the two years to September 2010, were found to be plagiarised after the journal brought in special cross-referencing software. The journal is designated as a key academic journal by the National Natural Science Foundation of China.

Search for more Copyrights related information

To access our daily STM news feed through your iPhone, iPad, or other smartphones, please visit www.myscoope.com for a mobile friendly reading experience.


UK Science and Technology Committee invites submissions for peer review inquiry
- 01 Feb 2011

The Science and Technology Committee in the UK's House of Commons recently launched an inquiry into peer review. It invites evidence on the operation and effectiveness of the peer review process used to examine and validate scientific results and papers prior to publication.

The Committee welcomes submissions on all aspect of the process. Among the issues it is likely to examine are the strengths and weaknesses of peer review as a quality control mechanism for scientists, publishers and the public; and measures to strengthen peer review. It will also study the value and use of peer reviewed science on advancing and testing scientific knowledge, and in informing public debate. The extent to which peer review varies between scientific disciplines and between countries across the world is another aspect likely to be examined. Additionally, the Committee will look at the processes by which reviewers with the requisite skills and knowledge are identified, in particular as the volume of multi-disciplinary research increases; and the impact of IT and greater use of online resources on the peer review process. It will peruse possible alternatives to peer review, as well. The Committee welcomes submissions from scientists whose material has been peer reviewed, those who commission peer reviews and those who carry out peer review.

The Association of Learned and Professional Society Publishers (ALPSP) has announced that it is preparing a response and would encourage members to submit their own evidence.

The Committee invites all written submissions on any of these issues by March 10, 2011. Each submission should be no more than 3,000 words in length; be in Word format with as little use of colour or logos as possible; have numbered paragraphs; and include a declaration of interests. A copy of the submission should be sent by e-mail to scitechcom@parliament.uk and marked "Peer review".

Search for more Regulations

To access our daily STM news feed through your iPhone, iPad, or other smartphones, please visit www.myscoope.com for a mobile friendly reading experience.


Click here

Publishers welcome America COMPETES Act Public Access Provision
- 11 Jan 2011

The Professional and Scholarly Publishing Division of the Association of American Publishers (AAP/PSP) and the DC Principles Coalition for Free Access to Science (Coalition) have expressed their appreciation and support for Congress in developing the Interagency Public Access Provision of the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010, signed into law by President Obama. The Act calls for the creation of an Interagency Public Access Committee (the Committee) charged with coordinating Federal agency policies concerning stewardship and dissemination of the results of research, including digital data and peer-reviewed scholarly publications, supported by funding from the Federal science agencies.

Key elements of the Public Access Provision include the requirement that the Committee report back to Congress within a year on the specific objectives and public interest that need to be addressed by any government policies it considers. The Provision also requires that the Committee consider the impact that such policies have had on science and engineering stakeholders, including the financial impact on research budgets. It also requires reporting on how any policies developed or being developed incorporate input from non-Federal stakeholders.

The organisations welcome the opportunity to engage with the Administration to advance well-considered policies that do not undermine copyright or propose new government mandates that would result in the duplication of private sector activities.

Search for more Grants and other research funding related information

To access our daily STM news feed through your iPhone, iPad, or other smartphones, please visit www.myscoope.com for a mobile friendly reading experience.


Click here

Virginia proposes bill to make publishers responsible for vetting textbook content
- 04 Jan 2011

Virginia State Delegate David Englin has reportedly introduced a bill that will seek to overhaul the state's textbook adoption process. This follows a state review that found dozens of errors in Virginia social studies textbooks.

The proposed Virginia Textbook Accountability Act aims to set up a textbook review process to eliminate what Englin calls 'egregiously inaccurate information' in classrooms. According to reports in the Washington Post, the legislation is expected to shift the responsibility of vetting textbooks from panels that consist mostly of school teachers, to the publishers. Companies will now have to be certified with the Virginia Board of Education before their books are approved for use in public schools.

To obtain state certification under the proposed bill, publishers would be required to pledge, and soon after prove, that their books are reviewed by subject-area specialists. Additionally, the legislation authorises the Board of Education and 'not publishers' to define what constitutes an established content expert. The legislation also calls on publishers to assume responsibility for correcting mistakes subsequently discovered by the board.

The Board of Education will publish a list of certified textbook publishers on its website. However, local school divisions will still be able to use books from publishers that are not certified.

Search for more Acts, Policies or Regulations

To access our daily STM news feed through your iPhone, iPad, or other smartphones, please visit www.myscoope.com for a mobile friendly reading experience.


ACS applauds passing of America COMPETES Act to boost research funding
- 23 Dec 2010

The American Chemical Society (ACS) has applauded the US Congress for reauthorising the America COMPETES Act.

America COMPETES (Creating Opportunities to Meaningfully Promote Excellence in Technology, Education and Science) was originally enacted in 2007. It was needed to be reauthorised this year in order to provide continued support for scientific research, technological development, science, technology, engineering and math education.

The bill authorises funding for science agencies including the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the US Department of Energy Office of Science. According to a report of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), economists broadly agree that more than 50 percent of US economic growth over the past 60 years was due to scientific and technological innovation.

Search for more Grants and other research funding related information

To access our daily STM news feed through your iPhone, iPad, or other smartphones, please visit www.myscoope.com for a mobile friendly reading experience.


Click here

US Commerce Dept. releases policy framework for protecting consumer privacy online
- 17 Dec 2010

The US' Department of Commerce has issued a report detailing initial policy recommendations aimed at promoting consumer privacy online while ensuring the Internet remains a platform that spurs innovation, job creation and economic growth. The report outlines a framework to increase protection of consumers' commercial data and support innovation and evolving technology. The Department is seeking additional public comment on the plan to further the policy discussion and ensure the framework benefits all stakeholders in the Internet economy.

The report, based on public input and discussion, recognises the growing economic and social importance of preserving consumer trust in the Internet. Global online transactions are currently estimated at $10 trillion annually. The report notes that the nation's privacy framework must evolve to keep pace with changes in technology, online services and Internet usage. To keep the digital economy growing, consumers need more transparency and control when it comes to the use and protection of their personal information, and innovators need greater certainty in order to meet consumer privacy expectations and the array of regulatory requirements they face around the world.

The report recommends considering a clear set of principles concerning how online companies collect and use personal information for commercial purposes. These principles would be recognised by the US government and serve as a foundation for online consumer data privacy. They would build on existing Fair Information Practice Principles (FIPPs) that are widely accepted among privacy experts as core obligations.

Further, the report recommends the adoption of baseline FIPPs, akin to a 'Privacy Bill of Rights'. This is expected to prompt companies to be more transparent about their use of consumer information; provide greater detail about why data is collected and how it is used; put clearer limits on the use of data; and increase their use of audits and other ways to bolster accountability. Other key recommendations include developing enforceable privacy codes of conduct in specific sectors with stakeholders; encouraging global interoperability to spur innovation and trade; considering how to harmonise disparate security breach notification rules; and reviewing the electronic communications privacy act for the cloud computing environment.

The Commerce Department will seek public comment and publish questions from the report in a Federal Register notice shortly . The Department's Internet Policy Task Force will also continue to work with others in government to engage the domestic and global privacy community, and will consider publishing a refined set of policy recommendations in the future.

The report is available for download at http://www.commerce.gov/node/12471.

Search for more Industry study reports

To access our daily STM news feed through your iPhone, iPad, or other smartphones, please visit www.myscoope.com for a mobile friendly reading experience.


Click here

ABM joining efforts to support US' First Amendment right to gather and sell data
- 17 Dec 2010

American Business Media (ABM), a grouping of business information companies, has reportedly joined with other publishing and data-collection associations and companies in supporting the US' First Amendment right to gather, market and sell data. This follows a reported split of opinion that has developed between two federal appeals courts concerning the right to collect and sell data. Contrary to a previous ruling that held that sale of data was no different from sale of 'beef jerky', the most recent decision held that the First Amendment prevents legislatures from banning the collection and sale of data.

As a result of the conflict, the issue of First Amendment rights to collect, market and sell data may be headed for review by the US Supreme Court. ABM's involvement at the Supreme Court level is considered important in showing the court that restrictions on data collection and sales could have broad and serious repercussions throughout American industry.

Many members of ABM, and companies with which they work, collect and sell data compilations. Collecting and selling data is similar to gathering news and publishing news reports, which has strong First Amendment protection. However, data collection activities are under attack, and the constitutional protection for these activities is unclear because of the split decisions, it has been observed.

In addition to endangering the right to collect and sell information, adverse rulings could also affect the rights of advertisers to place advertising. The theory behind restricting data collection - that restricting access to lawful information is a valid means for influencing consumer behaviour - could, if upheld, be used to restrict companies from advertising lawful products and services.

According to an ABM release, any restrictions on the rights of publishers and other data collectors to collect and sell information, or on business generally to engage in marketing and advertising, could seriously imperil traditional income streams of members of the business-to-business industry.

To access our daily STM news feed through your iPhone, iPad, or other smartphones, please visit www.myscoope.com for a mobile friendly reading experience.


Panel to study safety of electronic patient data formed
- 15 Dec 2010

US President Barack Obama, almost two years ago, initiated $19 billion in stimulus incentives to convert the nation's hospitals and doctors to using a paperless system of electronic health records. The initiative was aimed at improving quality of care and reducing costs. However, the adaptation is still a slow work in progress, according to a New York Times report.

It has been observed that majority of physicians in small offices continue to track patients' illnesses and other problems with paper and pen. Only about one in four doctors are reportedly using the electronic record system.

The New England Journal of Medicine recently published a report on North Carolina hospitals. According to the report, the thousands of sometimes deadly medical errors tallied by an Institute of Medicine study in 1999 are still all too common, and the electronic record systems are themselves increasingly attracting concerns that computer errors, design flaws and breakdowns in communication sometimes endanger patients. Further, according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), parts of a patient's electronic medical records have ceased to exist or been saved in the wrong patient's file. The agency further said that incorrect entries have sometimes been posted for drug allergies and blood pressure readings.

The Institute of Medicine has created the Committee on Patient Safety and Health Information Technology to take a fresh look at such concerns. It will run a year-long study and issue recommendations. The 16-member panel met for the first time on December 14, 2010, in Washington.

The ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, Senator Charles E. Grassley of Iowa, recently wrote to the health information industry and to the secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, asking for updates on what was being done to ensure the systems were being reviewed and monitored for patient safety concerns. He also inquired on the role of the FDA in regulating health information technology.

Dr. Jeffrey Shuren, a senior FDA policy and enforcement official, has suggested that FDA regulators could consider different new safety requirements under the agency's authority to assure the safety, effectiveness and quality of medical devices, including software devices.

Dr. David Blumenthal, the Obama administration's national coordinator for health information technology, has said that his office gave the Institute of Medicine $989,000 for the patient safety panel. The panel is led by Gail L. Warden, the former president and chief executive of the Henry Ford Health System in Detroit.

According to the media report, the industry has avoided speaking out on a role for the FDA. The Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society, a Washington-based industry group, has said that it supports the administration's decision to ask the Institute of Medicine to study this complex issue and report back over the next 12 months.

Search for more Grants and other research funding related information

To access our daily STM news feed through your iPhone, iPad, or other smartphones, please visit www.myscoope.com for a mobile friendly reading experience.


Stanford study on medical device regulations 'highly flawed', says CDRH chief
- 02 Dec 2010

The Center for Devices and Radiological Health (CDRH) director, Dr. Jeffrey Shuren, has strongly refuted findings from a recent study, according to which, over three-quarters of the cost to bring a medical device from concept to the US market is spent on clearing regulatory obstacles, it has been reported. He was speaking at the annual FDA update at the Massachusetts Medical Society sponsored by Massachusetts Medical Device Industry Council in association with the American Society for Quality, New England Biomedical Discussion Group and the Regulatory Affairs Professional Society - Boston Chapter.

According to Shuren, the study, conducted by researchers at the Stanford University, was 'highly flawed'. The study titled 'FDA Impact on U.S. Medical Technology Innovation', reported that regulatory processes and inefficiencies at the FDA delay patient access to treatment, and increase costs. The report, according to its authors, was based on a survey of over 200 small and medium sized medical technology companies in the US to examine the impact FDA regulatory processes have on innovation, patient care and job-creation.

In his response, Dr. Josh Makower, one of the authors of the study, has said that the report's premise on costs were correct. This is because US regulators influence the process much earlier than their European counterparts, due to a lack of uniformity in the investigational device exemption process. According to Dr. Makower, costs for the medical device manufacturer rise as they try to build clinical studies and find endpoints that US regulators will agree to. Further, he added that FDA officials had seen the results of the study prior to being publicly released. He hoped that the findings would help create collaboration and not acrimony.

To access our daily STM news feed through your iPhone, iPad, or other smartphones, please visit www.myscoope.com for a mobile friendly reading experience.


US Court of Appeal overturns lower court decision on Vermont law
- 25 Nov 2010

The US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit has ruled that a Vermont law restricting the commercial use of information relating to physician prescribing patterns is unconstitutional. Judge John G. Koeltl wrote the majority opinion overturning an April 2009 US District Court decision, concluding the Vermont law 'is a commercial speech restriction that does not directly advance the substantial state interests asserted by Vermont'.

The federal appeals court ruled in favour of IMS Health, SDI and Source Healthcare Analytics - three health information companies that jointly filed a lawsuit seeking to prevent Vermont from enforcing the state law enacted in July 2009.

While more than 100 similar bills have been introduced in state legislatures across the country, only three have been passed into law and none since 2007 when Vermont and Maine joined New Hampshire as the only three states to do so.

An amicus brief filed by a group of academic research scientists from institutions such as MIT, Columbia, Dartmouth and the University of Wisconsin reportedly provides some insight into the value of information to make things better. According to these scientists, a large part of contemporary research in virtually all fields of intellectual endeavour involves the gathering, synthesising, organising and analysing of thousands, millions, or even billions of discrete transactions and events. This data is 'crunched' for what it may illuminate or reveal, thereby advancing creativity and innovation in all realms of learning. The production and use of such data is seen to serve all of the worthy purposes that animate the First Amendment's protection of the free flow of information'.

The three companies that brought the suit and others point out that commercial access to physician prescribing patterns has great public health value. That particular information is seen to be used for a wide variety of beneficial purposes, including to study prescribing trends, monitor the safety of new medications, support safety-oriented risk management programmes, prevent prescription drug abuse, expedite drug recalls, recruit for clinical trials and study treatment variability and outcomes.

IMS, SDI and Source Healthcare Analytics (a division of Wolters Kluwer Health) are companies that collect and analyse a vast array of information regarding medicines and other aspects of healthcare, and provide information, analytics and consulting services to government agencies, departments of health, academic researchers, pharmaceutical manufacturers, biotechnology companies and generic drug manufacturers. The companies believe that patient privacy can and must be preserved and protected while health information is used responsibly to improve healthcare delivery. The companies utilise privacy protections, including de-identification and appropriate administrative, technical and physical safeguards to protect patient privacy and to advance worldwide medicine and improve healthcare quality and value for patients.

To access our daily STM news feed through your iPhone, iPad, or other smartphones, please visit www.myscoope.com for a mobile friendly reading experience.


Click here

Institute of Physics welcomes proposals in Comprehensive Spending Review
- 22 Oct 2010

Following the recent publication of the UK government's Comprehensive Spending Review, Professor Marshall Stoneham, President of the Institute of Physics (IOP), has expressed relief that the science budget has been spared from deep cuts.

There is still much uncertainty, particularly surrounding the financial health of universities, he said. However, it is good news for UK science that the government recognises the value of a strong scientific research base to the economy, he added. This would be complemented by investment in an elite network of R&D intensive technology and innovation centres.

According to Stoneham, even with a flat cash settlement, the next few years will be challenging ones. The science community will need to work very hard to maintain the excellence of research, retain the best young researchers and avoid any damage to the country's international reputation in a world where many other countries are increasing their investment in research, he said.

Search for more research funding related information

To access our daily STM news feed through your iPhone, iPad, or other smartphones, please visit www.myscoope.com for a mobile friendly reading experience.


Click here

British Library welcomes Comprehensive Spending Review settlement
- 21 Oct 2010

The British Library, the national library of the UK, has welcomed the settlement it received in the Comprehensive Spending Review. It has described the outcome as a 'fair settlement and positive achievement for the Secretary of State in a very difficult economic climate'.

The British Library's Grant in Aid funding will be reduced by 15 percent over four years, and its annual capital budget will be cut by 50 percent, which will reportedly be very difficult to achieve. These cuts are on top of the 3 percent cuts announced in May for this financial year. The Library also welcomed the Government commitment to fund the newspaper capital project to safeguard the future of the national newspaper collection. However, this is a particularly complex issue and detailed discussions will continue with DCMS over the next few months on how to realise this commitment.

According to Chief Executive Dame Lynne Brindley, although this is a fair settlement in difficult times, it clearly presents huge challenges coming on top of significant savings made over many years. The Library's Executive Team will now work through in detail how it can best continue to deliver essential services, protect world class collections and continue to innovate for the digital age.

Search for more research funding related information

To access our daily STM news feed through your iPhone, iPad, or other smartphones, please visit www.myscoope.com for a mobile friendly reading experience.


Click here

US technology firms reach settlement with Justice Dept. on poaching issues
- 27 Sep 2010

The US' Justice Department has reached an agreement with six major Silicon Valley companies to settle allegations that they colluded to stifle competition for employees by restricting the way they could poach workers from each other.

The settlement, filed in the US District Court for the District of Columbia late Friday, names Google Inc., Apple Inc., Intel Corp., Adobe Systems Inc., Intuit Inc. and Walt Disney Corp.'s Pixar Animation Studios.

The Justice Department had been investigating whether the companies pledged not to use 'cold calls' to recruit each other's employees, as part of partnership agreements. The government was concerned that such promises amounted to a form of collusion to avoid bidding wars for employees with specialised skills, and in turn held down payroll expenses.

According to the Justice Department, these agreements eliminated a significant form of competition to attract highly skilled employees, depriving employees of access to better job opportunities. The settlement bars the companies from entering into such "no-solicitation agreements" for employees for a period of five years.

In court documents, the Justice Department cited various partnership agreements among the companies from 2005 through 2007 in which both sides agreed not make unsolicited job offers to computer scientists, engineers and other workers with specialised skills.

Technology companies, however, argue that restrictions on contacting each other's employees encouraged partnerships that spurred economic growth and fostered more innovation.

To access our daily STM news feed through your iPhone, iPad, or other smartphones, please visit www.myscoope.com for a mobile friendly reading experience.


Click here

ARL joins non-profit organisations in Bouchat v. Ravens amicus brief
- 21 Sep 2010

The Association of Research Libraries (ARL) - along with the American Library Association (ALA), the Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL), the International Documentary Association (IDA) and the WGBH Educational Foundation - has joined an amicus brief prepared in the US by Anthony Falzone at the Stanford Fair Use Project. The parties are asking for the full Fourth Circuit to rehear the case of Bouchat v. Ravens and reconsider the panel's flawed fair use reasoning.

The case centers around a logo used from 1996 to 1998 by the football team Baltimore Ravens, which was later determined to infringe Frederick E. Bouchat's copyrights. Bouchat sued and won, and the team has used a new logo since 1999. Bouchat also sued the Ravens and the National Football League (NFL) and asked the court for the right to suppress every depiction of his logo, including every depiction of the Baltimore Ravens in uniforms bearing the logo from 1996 to 1998. The district court denied his request, saying these historical depictions were fair use. On appeal, however, a panel of the Fourth Circuit reversed the district court.

Falzone's amicus brief seeks to remind the court that there is overwhelming precedent to support the Ravens' claim of fair use. The brief makes several points, but perhaps the most important point is seen to be that for-profit use is not fatal to a fair use claim.

The Supreme Court has said that fair use is an essential First Amendment protection because it ensures that the copyright monopoly is not allowed to become a limitation on vital freedoms of expression. If courts decline to apply fair use to protect something as fundamental as the right to document historical facts, they upset the constitutional balance in copyright law. The 'exclusive rights' of authors and inventors were never meant to give them a licence to censor history, it was observed.

To access our daily STM news feed through your iPhone, iPad, or other smartphones, please visit www.myscoope.com for a mobile friendly reading experience.


Click here

US lawmakers probe Internet firms over privacy protection policies
- 28 Jul 2010

Close on the heels of various online privacy issues, members of a US Senate committee have reportedly grilled Google, Facebook, Apple and AT&T, seeking assurance to protect user information in the future. During a hearing held by the Senate Commerce Committee, the Senators questioned the need for a new legislation to protect users' personal information online.

The hearing came on the heels of privacy issues involving these companies - Google's collection of unsecured data from private Wi-Fi networks; Facebook's frequently shifting and allegedly confusing privacy settings; and AT&T's disclosure of more than 100,000 e-mail addresses of Apple iPad owners.

The Chairman of the committee, Sen. Jay Rockefeller, said that legislators must ask whether Americans 'fully understand and appreciate what information is being collected about them, and whether or not they are empowered to stop certain practices from taking place'. According to Federal Trade Commission Chairman Jonathan Leibowitz, people often don't read privacy policies on websites and Internet companies' privacy policies didn't necessarily protect users.

Sen. John F. Kerry has announced plans to work with Sen. Mark Pryor on an online privacy bill, with hopes to pass it early next year.

Search for more antitrust issues

Get customisable STM news alerts in your Mobile. Visit http://www.scopeknowledge.com/scoope.jar via your mobile browser to download the SCOOPE application


Review of US Digital Millennium Copyright Act brings new exemptions
- 28 Jul 2010

The United States Copyright Office reportedly completed its statutorily required review of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) recently. Three major exemptions included in the ruling were a renewal on the exemption for cell-phone unlocking, a new exemption for the jail-breaking of smart phones technology, and the use of visual media clips for transformative, non-commercial works. The ruling has reportedly resulted in a flood of optimism from a range of open access advocates.

The Copyright Office ruling on the DMCA is held every third year, and was released on July 26, 2010. The ruling is available online at http://www.copyright.gov/1201.

The campaign for the first of the two exemptions was spearheaded by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), which hailed the ruling. "Unlocking" is when a cellphone owner reworks the phone so that it can run on alternative provider networks than the one through which it was activated. "Jailbreaking" is the modification of software on smart phones so as to be interoperable with other operating systems. EFF and the Organization for Transformative Works (OTW) joined together to gain the final exemption, useful in the world of "vidding" or using short clips from films, television and other media sources in order to create a new work that comments upon, criticises or otherwise engages with the old one.

These exemptions will have to undergo new scrutiny in order to be renewed through the same process in three years. For the moment, the vidding exemption is seen to open up new ground for professionals working on presentations, artists and educators to grapple with visual media while being certain they are covered by Fair Use Doctrine, according to sources.

Search for more Government Acts / Policies / Regulations

Get customisable STM news alerts in your Mobile. Visit http://www.scopeknowledge.com/scoope.jar via your mobile browser to download the SCOOPE application


Click here

US House committee to hold hearing on public access to publicly funded research
- 23 Jul 2010

The U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on Information Policy, the Census and National Archives has announced that it will hold a hearing on the issue of public access to federally funded research on July 29, 2010. The hearing will provide an opportunity for the Committee to hear the perspectives of a broad range of stakeholders on the potential impact of opening up access to the results of the US' more than $60 billion annual investment in scientific research.

The Subcommittee's interest stems from the growing number of visible expressions of interest in the issue of public access that have surfaced in recent months, in both the Legislative and Executive branches of government. Notably, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, earlier this year, hosted a Public Access Policy Forum on mechanisms that would leverage federal investments in scientific research and increase access to information.

Additionally, H.R. 5037, the Federal Research Public Access Act (FRPAA), which was introduced into the House on April 15, by Rep. Mike Doyle (R-PA) and is supported by a growing bi-partisan host of cosponsors, was referred to the Committee. The bill, and its identical Senate counterpart (introduced by Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) and John Cornyn (R-TX)), proposes to require those eleven federal agencies with extramural research budgets of $100 million or more to implement policies that deliver timely, free, online public access to the published results of the research they fund.

The hearing will examine the state of public access to federally-funded research in science, technology, and medicine. It will assess and delineate the complex issues surrounding public access policies. The hearing will also provide an opportunity for representatives from the areas of publishing, science and research, education and patient care to provide perspective on challenges, potential impact and opportunities regarding increased access.

The growing interest in exploring effective public access policies in the US reflects a larger worldwide trend. Around the globe, national and non-profit funding agencies are recognising the opportunity to increase the return on their research grants by requiring that findings be made freely accessible on the Internet.

Search for more Acts / Policies / Regulations

Get customisable STM news alerts in your Mobile. Visit http://www.scopeknowledge.com/scoope.jar via your mobile browser to download the SCOOPE application


ISMPP responds to report on ghostwriting in medical publications
- 23 Jul 2010

The International Society for Medical Publication Professionals (ISMPP) has stated its response to a report entitled 'Ghostwriting in Medical Literature' released by the office of US Senator Charles Grassley. The 31-page report deals with uniform disclosure of financial and editorial support and more specificity in acknowledging editorial assistance.

Released on June 24, 2010, the report highlighted Grassley's concern 'about the lack of transparency that exists in medical ghostwriting'. According to ISMPP, the report calls for more uniform disclosure of financial and editorial support in medical publications and more specificity in acknowledging editorial assistance. While lauding that, the organisation has also questioned some information in Grassley's report.

Cited as one weak point was the headline in the 'Findings' section of the report that read 'the role of pharmaceutical companies in medical publications remains veiled or undisclosed'. ISMPP noted that as evidence, the report references events that predate the global ethical standards that guide the development of medical publications today.

ISMPP has stated that it shares the Senator's goal of improving transparency in this field. It believes full disclosure and acknowledgment of all contributions to medical publications are essential elements of ethical publication practices that ultimately protect the health and safety of patients, and maintain the integrity of the profession.

Another weakness identified by the ISMPP was the absence of cornerstone guidances and codes of practice now in place, which were published and adopted since 2003. In addition, ISMPP officials noted that the report focuses on publications sponsored by the pharmaceutical industry. It does not adequately address publications developed in academic settings, where some of the same issues of authorship and disclosure are apparent.

Search for more Case Studies/Industry study reports

Get customisable STM news alerts in your Mobile. Visit http://www.scopeknowledge.com/scoope.jar via your mobile browser to download the SCOOPE application


Click here

Government of Canada to review Revised Foreign Investment Policy in Book Publishing and Distribution
- 22 Jul 2010

The Minister of Canadian Heritage and Official Languages, James Moore, has announced a review of the Revised Foreign Investment Policy in Book Publishing and Distribution, which will include consultations with individuals and organisations interested in Canadian books. The review will seek to ensure that Canada's foreign investment policy for the book sector reflects new realities and supports the Government's goal of ensuring that readers everywhere have access to a wide range of Canadian-authored books.

Since the current policy was introduced in 1985 and revised in 1992, a number of developments - including the proliferation of digital technologies, consolidation of ownership, and increased globalisation - have altered Canada's landscape for both the book industry and consumers. The Competition Policy Review Panel's final report highlighted the importance of reviewing cultural policies in light of the changing context in which they operate, while recognising the unique nature of the cultural sector. The recently announced policy review is yet another example of the current Government's commitment to deliver on the Panel's recommendations.

The online consultations, which will close on September 18, 2010, will seek Canadians' feedback on the impacts of the policy to date and on how best to meet its objectives going forward. Details about the key themes being considered can be found in a discussion paper posted on the consultation website at www.pch.gc.ca/bookconsultation.

Search for more Acts / Policies / Regulations

Get customisable STM news alerts in your Mobile. Visit http://www.scopeknowledge.com/scoope.jar via your mobile browser to download the SCOOPE application


Click here

LCA files brief in case involving first-sale doctrine
- 09 Jul 2010

The Library Copyright Alliance (LCA) has filed an amicus curiae brief with the Supreme Court of the US in support of petitioner Costco Wholesale Corporation in a lawsuit filed against Costco by luxury watch manufacturer Omega. The LCA comprises the American Library Association (ALA), the Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL) and the Association of Research Libraries (ARL).

Omega claims Costco infringed its copyrights by importing authentic Omega watches from abroad rather than buying them from the US distributor at a higher price. LCA believes this case could diminish the legal provision that allows libraries to lend books.

The 'first-sale doctrine' is the exception to the Copyright Act that allows any purchaser of a legal copy of a book or other copyrighted work to sell or lend that copy. However, the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled that the first-sale doctrine applied only to copies manufactured in the US. In its friend of the court brief, LCA has asked the Supreme Court to reverse the Ninth Circuit Court's decision and apply the first-sale doctrine to all copies manufactured with the lawful authorisation of the holder of a work's US copyright.

How the Supreme Court interprets the first-sale doctrine could determine the extent to which libraries can continue to lend books and other materials manufactured abroad to the public.

The LCA asserts that this case is critically important to libraries and their users because a significant portion of US library collections consist of resources that were manufactured overseas. More than 200 million books in US libraries have foreign publishers. Additionally, many books published by US publishers were actually printed in other countries, and often these books do not indicate where they were printed. If a book does not specify that it was printed in the US, a library would not know whether it could lend it without being exposed to a copyright lawsuit.

LCA believes it is critically important for the court to recognise the impact this case could have on library services to the public and to consider possible solutions. A PDF version of the amicus brief is available online at http://www.librarycopyrightalliance.org/bm~doc/lca-costco-amicus.pdf.

Search for more on Copyrights/Data Integrity/Ethical issues

Get customisable STM news alerts in your Mobile. Visit http://www.scopeknowledge.com/scoope.jar via your mobile browser to download the SCOOPE application


Click here

US Education, Justice Departments examine use of e-readers in campuses
- 01 Jul 2010

With the introduction of e-readers such as Apple's iPad and Amazon's Kindle, campuses across the US have reportedly begun to adopt them into their curriculum. Though students have been quick to accept the change in technology, the Department of Education and the Department of Justice have stepped in to regulate the use of e-readers in the classroom.

The Department of Education and the Justice Department recently issued a letter stating that classes requiring e-readers to be used in the class must ensure that the devices are fully accessible to all students. This includes students who are blind or those who have low vision. This means that the devices must have text-to-speech options that will allow students to listen to the textbook. Also, the text-to-speech options should help the user in successfully navigating the menu and choosing the text to be read in the first place.

Not all e-readers necessarily have this capability. It was found that Amazon's Kindle cannot be accessed by students with nil or limited vision. Federally funded public and private institutions like colleges, universities, elementary schools and high schools are barred from discriminating against individuals with disabilities or preventing them from having an equal opportunity to learn. Therefore, institutions have been prohibited from requiring e-readers for use in classrooms if it is found to be inaccessible to those with disabilities. While the Department found faults with Amazon's Kindle, Apple's iPad has reportedly passed the accessibility test.

Search for more government policies


Texas attorney general's office queries e-book publishers
- 02 Jun 2010

The Texas attorney general is reportedly conducting an inquiry on the electronic book market. The e-book business is an area where pricing has been shaken up by Apple Inc. and the way e-books are being sold for the iPad. According to reports in the Wall Street Journal, two major publishers have been approached by the state agency.

Company officials at Lagardere SCA's Hachette Book Group confirmed that the publishing house was contacted by Texas officials. A spokeswoman for News Corp.'s HarperCollins Publishers said that the publishing house received a request for documents from the Texas attorney general's office. Both companies declined to comment any further. The probe was earlier reported by the book-industry publication Publishers Marketplace. According to the publication, Apple was a target of the preliminary inquiry.

While it is not clear what areas of inquiry Texas is pursuing, a possible focus could be Apple's e-book pricing and its impact on consumers. To attract content for the iPad, Apple opted for an agency pricing model. Publishers set their own retail prices and receive 70 percent of the price while the seller receives 30 percent. Five of the six major publishing houses have reportedly embraced the agency model.

Antitrust agencies have been taking a closer interest in Silicon Valley companies in general. The Department of Justice is making preliminary inquiries about Apple Inc.'s practices in the music business.


US govt. may introduce regulation of broadband lines for Internet access
- 06 May 2010

The US federal government is looking to propose regulating broadband lines under decades-old rules designed for traditional phone networks. The decision, announced by Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski, is expected to trigger a lobbying battle, setting out cable companies and big phone and their allies on Capitol Hill against consumer advocates and Silicon Valley giants.

Genachowski is expected to shortly outline his plan for regulating broadband lines. He desires to adopt ‘net neutrality’ rules that require Internet providers to treat all traffic equally, and not to block or slow access to websites.

The decision has been eagerly anticipated since a federal appeals court ruling last month cast doubt on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)'s authority over broadband lines. The court then ruled the FCC had overstepped when it cited Comcast in 2008 for slowing some customers' Internet traffic.

The FCC has mostly maintained a hands-off approach to Internet regulation for the past decade. Internet giants like Amazon.com Inc., Google Inc., and eBay Inc., which want to offer more web video and other high-bandwidth services, have called for stronger action by the FCC to ensure free access to websites.

Telecommunications and cable executives have cautioned that using land-line phone rules to govern management of Internet traffic would lead them to cut billions of capital expenditure for their networks, slash jobs and go to court to fight the rules. Consumer groups have, however, hailed the decision.

Genachowski's proposal will undergo a modified inquiry and rule-making process that will likely take months of public comment. However, the rule is likely to be passed as it has the support of the two other Democratic commissioners.

Search for more on Internet Accessibility


US open access law gain ground among universities, Congress
- 06 May 2010

The US' National Institutes of Health (NIH), for the past several years, has implemented an open access policy as mandated by the Congress. The policy requires any work derived from NIH funding to be sent to the NIH in digital form for public access. There have been periodic attempts to reverse the policy. Yet, it has been so successful that the US Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) has requested public input on an extension of the rules to all federally funded research. In addition, a consortium of US research institutions is now putting its weight to turn the potential OSTP policy into law.

The new legislation, a Senate bill called the Federal Research Public Access Act (FRPAA) that was introduced last year, seeks to ensure that any policy adopted by executive order cannot be overturned when a new administration takes charge.

The research grants provided to nongovernmental institutions total over $60 billion. If passed, the bill would require any agency that hands out over $100 million in grants to set up a method for grant recipients to send publications in electronic form within six months of their appearing in print. However, the NIH stipulates a year following publication. The submission could be the final document sent in to the academic journal or, if the journal permits, the fully formatted version that is published online following typesetting.

The agencies would be responsible for generating a bibliography and archiving the material. Depending on budget allocations, the agencies may have to choose between meeting this new obligation and funding more research.

The bill purportedly recognises the value of peer review. Researchers will be required to submit versions that include all changes demanded by reviewers. Meeting presentations, preliminary data, lab notes and other material that hasn't been reviewed thoroughly are specifically excluded. The bill is receiving significant support from the research community itself. A group of major research universities, including Harvard, Cornell, California-Berkely and Stanford recently released an open letter in support of the legislation.

The publishing industry is the only group that is expected to object the bill. Some publishers feel that six months is enough time to extract most of the value of their role in typesetting and organising peer review. While some publishers have embraced these policies as a way of broadening the impact of the work they publish, others have resisted.

Search for more Acts / Policies / Regulations


Public access lobbyists seeking support for passage of US bill
- 19 Apr 2010

US Congress Representatives Doyle, Waxman, Wasserman-Schultz, Harper, Boucher and Rohrabacher recently introduced the Federal Research Public Access Act (FRPAA). The bill is expected to ensure free, timely, online access to the published results of research funded by 11 US federal agencies.

All supporters of public access – universities and colleges, researchers, libraries, campus administrators, patient advocates, publishers, consumers, individuals, and others – are being asked to take steps to support the bill.

Before both the House of Representatives and the Senate, FRPAA would require those agencies with annual extramural research budgets of $100 million or more to provide the public with online access to research manuscripts stemming from such funding no later than six months after publication in a peer-reviewed journal. The bill gives individual agencies flexibility in choosing the location of the digital repository to house this content, as long as the repositories meet conditions for interoperability and public accessibility. It also has provisions for long-term archiving.

The bill specifically covers unclassified research funded by agencies including Department of Agriculture, Department of Commerce, Department of Defense, Department of Education, Department of Energy, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Transportation, Environmental Protection Agency, National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the National Science Foundation.

FRPAA is observed to reflect the growing trend among funding agencies – and college and university campuses – to leverage their investment in the conduct of research by maximising the dissemination of results. It is seen to follow the successful path forged by the NIH’s Public Access Policy, as well as by private funders like the Wellcome Trust and campuses such as Harvard, MIT and the University of Kansas. The bill is also projected to reflect the Administration’s recent expression of interest in the potential implementation of public access policies across US science and technology agencies – as indicated by the call for public comment issued by the Office of Science and Technology Policy, which closed in January.

Search for more Acts / Policies / Regulations


Click here

Federal Research Public Access Act introduced in US House of Representatives
- 16 Apr 2010

The Federal Research Public Access Act of 2010 (FRPAA) has reportedly been introduced in the US House of Representatives by Rep. Mike Doyle and other co-sponsors. The proposed bill seeks to build on the purported success of the first US mandate for public access to the published results of publicly funded research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Once passed, the bill would require federal agencies with annual extramural research budgets of $100 million or more to provide the public with online access to research manuscripts stemming from funded research no later than six months after publication in a peer-reviewed journal. The introduction of the bill – HR 5037 - is seen to fuel a growing momentum toward openness, transparency and accessibility to publicly funded information.

Like the Senate bill introduced in 2009, HR 5037 is expected to unlock unclassified research funded by agencies including: Department of Agriculture, Department of Commerce, Department of Defense, Department of Education, Department of Energy, Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Homeland Security, Department of Transportation, Environmental Protection Agency, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and the National Science Foundation.

HR 5037 follows closely on the heels of a recent expression of interest in public access policies from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP). The OSTP issued a request for public comment on mechanisms that would leverage federal investments in scientific research and increase access to information that promises to stimulate scientific and technological innovation and competitiveness.

The introduction of HR 5037 has reportedly been welcomed by representatives of the higher education community. The Alliance for Taxpayer Access has called on organisations and individuals to write in support of the bill through the website at http://www.taxpayeraccess.org.

Search for more Acts / Policies / Regulations


Click here

For banner ads click here