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Federal Public Access Policy: A Breach of the First Amendment Rights of Scientists
Communication Law and Policy  (IF),  Pub Date : 2019-10-02, DOI: 10.1080/10811680.2019.1660553
Karen M. Markin

Federal public access policy requires recipients of federal research grants to place copies of scientific articles they publish based on the awards in a federal repository. Publishers hold the copyrights to these articles, and not all of them permit authors to comply with the policy. This article argues that public access policy infringes on the First Amendment rights of scientist-authors. The Supreme Court of the United States has held that it is the author’s right to choose where, when and whether to publish. Choice of publication venue is critical to authors, who retain creative and economic interests in their work, even when they transfer copyright. Scientist-authors generally seek to publish in prestigious journals that will lead to promotions and extramural funding. The federal government already exerts a great deal of control over the research it funds and must stay out of the author-publisher relationship.