There was some controversy over my recent post about scientific publishing and a bill proposed by Representative John Conyers (D-MI) to make it difficult or impossible for scientists to openly publish their work so that it is freely accessible. The way I read the bill, scientists with federal funding would not be able to publish their data openly. However, some commenters disagreed, saying the bill did not do at all what I said it would.
However, Lawrence Lessig – a professor of law at Stanford – was interviewed about this very bill, and his conclusions are very similar to what I originally wrote. Because of this, I will for now stand by my original conclusion: this bill would prevent or make it very difficult for scientists to distribute their work except through very expensive journals, and that this would slow scientific progress due to the lack of open source publication of research. If better evidence comes along, then I am willing to listen, of course.
As it stands now, Representative Conyers has posted a rebuttal to Lessig on The Huffington Post. I’ll add that I do think that Lessig’s attacks on Conyers about corruption are strident; I myself said that it’s interesting that Conyers received far more than average donations from the publishing industry, but note that the total amount isn’t much (about $9000).
Lessig has posted a rebuttal to this, and so on it goes. I will continue to read about this as I have time and it progresses.