Obama and Germany on the right (Green) Path!

At the beginning of this year 2013, a breath of springtime air already seems to be pushing the American and German governments further along the Green Path.

On February 22 the American public made public its policy concerning better access to the results of the research it funds, thus taking the path initiated by the National Institutes of Health.

For its part Germany could go much further. A modification in German law concerning copyright which will be considered in September could render inalienable the right of researchers to freely disseminate their articles on the internet, the same being also true in the case of a transfer of copyright to the publisher.

Following the success of the petition, Increasing Access to the Results of Federally Funded Scientific Research, signed by 65,000 citizens on the White House website, the Obama administration had to have felt duty bound to react. Since Friday that is now a done deal. On a model very similar to that of the NIH mandate, the American government defines its OA policy for research work funded at a federal level in a memorandum.

This document lays the emphasis on:

  • the visibility and accessibility of documents arising from research;
  • their long term preservation;
  • ease in locating publications;
  • the optimization of research, its archiving and its dissemination;
  • the interoperability between the different repositories and databases;
  • the importance of using and developing existing repositories.

The question of the Green Path is thus very much in the air, even if depositing in an open archive is not made obligatory. What is obligatory, on the other hand, is making all the publications concerned freely available, with a maximum embargo of 12 months. It seems that the American government has finally decided to follow the example of the NIH.And reactions to it have not been long in coming: on 26 February, 24 new depositing policies from American research funding bodies had already been added to ROARMAP.

Better still, in his speech at the Berlin 10 OA conference, Dr. Horst Freitag, the German Ambassador, had already announced that his government was considering a revision of its copyright and intellectual property laws.

This change in the law, which should be examined in September, aims at allowing the authors of academic and scientific research articles funded from public money to make all the articles freely available on the internet within 12 months of the initial publication, as long as the original source of the publication is correctly cited. Any agreement which would not allow this would thus be considered invalid.

Should the German law be thus adapted, it would be a giant step for Open Access and for the Green Path in particular!

Let us hope that these forms of firm position taking will serve as an example to other governments, in order that decisive acts are carried out in favor of Open Access.