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New whitepaper offers options for university implementation of NIH policy

Washington, DC and Cambridge, MA February 29, 2008 SPARC (the Scholarly Publishing and Academic Resources Coalition), Science Commons, and the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) have jointly released a white paper to help university and medical school administrators ensure their institutions comply with public access requirements that are soon to be a condition of National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding.

Effective April 7, 2008, investigators must deposit articles stemming from NIH funding into the agencys PubMed Central online archive, to be made publicly available no later than 12 months after publication in a journal. Complying with the National Institutes of Health Public Access Policy: Copyright Considerations and Options will help provosts, research administrators, and campus counsel understand their institutions copyright-related obligations and options under the new Congressionally mandated policy, which was announced in January and replaces an earlier voluntary approach.

The timely analysis was prepared by Michael W. Carroll, an attorney, copyright expert, and faculty member at Villanova University law school. Carroll reviews the policy and its background, explains the legal context, and presents six alternative copyright management strategies that will help grantee institutions assure they reserve the necessary rights for articles to be made available in PubMed Central.

Carroll has been involved for several years in copyright issues as a member of the Creative Commons board and an advisor to Science Commons. In 2004 he worked with SPARC to develop the popular SPARC Author Addendum (, which enables authors to reserve rights to deposit their works in open online archives.

"The benefits to biomedical research of the new NIH policy are ultimately nothing short of tremendous, said Heather Joseph, executive director of SPARC. The sooner we can get effective implementing mechanisms in place, the sooner researchers, institutions, and the public can put PubMed Central to work. With April implementation drawing near, this paper will be a great tool to help administrators jumpstart the local planning process.

Congress and the NIH recognize that the Internet makes a difference, said John Wilbanks, Vice President of Science Commons. Faculty authors can no longer sign away their copyrights in a business-as-usual manner when doing so means that their work will never be openly accessible over the Internet. This white paper is a step in making sure authors and universities understand how to move forward with a solid legal footing.

Karla Hahn, Director of the ARL Office of Scholarly Communication, added, The new NIH requirement should accelerate ongoing efforts to establish norms for authors to routinely retain rights to deposit works in local as well as national digital repositories. Carroll's much-needed analysis clarifies the new opportunities for institutions to develop strategic approaches to rights management issues.


Contact: Jennifer McLennan

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