The U.S. Congress last week formally re-introduced theFederal Research Public Access Act of 2010 (FRPAA) in the U.S. House ofRepresentatives, a bill that would mandate public access to publicly-fundedresearch in the U.S.The bill, modeled after a similar policy put in place by the U.S. NationalInstitutes for Health (NIH) in April, 2008, would require federal agencies withannual extramural research budgets of $100 million or more to provide thepublic with online access to research manuscripts within six months afterpublication in a peer-reviewed journal. A Senate version of the bill wasintroduced in July, 2009.

Movement on the FRPAA sets up something of a copyrightbattle in Congress, as publishers, who bitterly oppose public access mandates,have pushed a competing bill: the Fair Copyright in Research Works Act (HR801). Introduced in February, 2009, that bill, would prohibit the federalgovernment from requiring any copyright transfer in connection with receivingfederal funding.

First introduced in 2006, FRPAA represents a broader,more aggressive mandate for public access to taxpayer-funded than the NIH'sgroundbreaking policy, which required NIH grantees to make their resultingresearch publicly available within a year. The FRPAA would trim that period byhalf, and would apply to all unclassified research funded by agencies includingthe Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Education, Health and HumanServices, Homeland Security, Transportation, Environmental Protection, as wellas the National Science Foundation and NASA.

Publishers, however, have vowed to fight, claiming theNIH mandate takes unfair advantage of their efforts, such as editing andpeer-review, and diminishes copyright. The AAP calls the bill "unnecessary and ill-considered."

After going nowhere in previous sessions, this time,supporters say, the FRPAA has support. It follows closely on the heels of arecent expression of interest in public access policies from the White HouseOffice of Science and Technology Policy, and syncs with the Obamaadministration's open government goals.