Friday, January 27, 2012

SOPA's Killer Cousin You've Probably Never Heard About

Abdulrahman El-Sayed has an excellent article in today's Huffington Post in which he strongly criticizes the proposed "Research Works Act" (H.R.3699). El-Sayed argues that this bill, if passed, will be detrimental to the dissemination of important biomedical research results. And the "heaviest burden . . . would fall on the poor and underserved."

. . . . One of the greatest public goods our taxpayers fund is biomedical research.

Compared to all of the direct foreign aid our government disburses and all the flag-waving it does in an effort to improve our image on the global market, freely available NIH-funded research is among the best displays of goodwill we put forth. Consider, for example, a recent conversation I shared in an Alexandria hospital with Dr. Salah, an Egyptian surgeon. When he found out I was American he proclaimed "God bless America for Pubmed" -- the National Library of Medicine's online search engine for health research.

But that may soon come to an end. A recent bill, the "Research Works Act", proposed under pressure from the Association of American Publishers, threatens to strangle access to health research to protect the interests of a few greedy corporations -- it would keep crucial, life-saving information from doctors and scientists who use it to take care of people and contribute to knowledge. . . .

This bill would force taxpayers -- who pay for NIH-funded research in the first place -- to pay publishers for the right to access the science they've paid to have done.

What's worse, the heaviest burden of this insidious bill, if passed, would fall on the poor and underserved.

At home, it would keep crucial medical information from doctors who serve low-income patients and who can't afford the steep subscription costs. In low-income countries abroad, it would choke off doctors and scientists who rely on NIH-funded research to improve the lives and wellbeing of billions of people. . . .

Access to crucial scientific knowledge is at stake. Help kill this bill and save lives by contacting your representatives and expressing your indignation today.

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