Lawrence Lessig, one of the pioneers in reengineering copyright, posted an interesting note about a bill making its way through Congress:
The bill (sponsored by Rep. John Conyers) would remove the current requirement that government-funded research be made public after a set amount of time; instead, publishers of publicly-funded research could require payment for access to the results. This has serious implications for academia. As Lessig notes, the cost of journal access has been on the rise for some time, forcing university libraries to cut access to certain journals (our department, as well as departments across UNL, had to cut subscriptions last year; if I remember right, Publius was one of the journals we lost).
Lessig has been pushing for a model of research access wherein citizens, government agencies and universities do not have to pay for access to research they’ve already funded; he sees this bill as a move by publishers to quash such a movement, which would obviously cut into their profits.