I’ve been retweeting a lot about these over on my twitter, but I thought I’d put up some links for posterity. These bits of legislation are related to these-here internets, too, so they really affect everyone.
SOPA (the Stop Online Piracy Act; its House counterpart is called PROTECT-IP). This proposed bill is baaad news. TL;DR: It basically allows the takedown of any website that is even suspected of piracy, proof or no. Or websites that might link to those sites.
Jessamyn has a great summary of information and where to find it, and what librarians can do to fight this bill. The Journal of Academic Librarianship, is owned by Elsevier, who supports SOPA. One thing to consider as suggested by LibraryLoon is no longer submitting to that journal, and to write to the editorial board of the journal to ask why they are willing to continue providing free labor to a company that directly works against their professional interests. (I will note that Elsevier is not always a favorite company of librarians in general, since they tend to have the most expensive, prohibitive pricing and sharing models for the works they own. And they tend to own the journals that get our faculty tenure. A bad combination, that.) I’m working on moving away from GoDaddy as my provider as soon as I can, because they supported SOPA as well (then they weaseled out, but really). Interestingly, as ReadWriteWeb notes, news outlets that support SOPA are not reporting upon it.
The Research Works Act. Another disturbing proposed piece of proposed legislation is the Research Works Act (HR 3699), which would remove the requirement that publicly funded research (i.e. through federal grants like the National Insitutes of Health) be made available to the public within a certain time frame after its publication. Articles drawn from NIH-funded research on colon cancer, for instance, would no longer be required to be posted to PubMed after six months. Instead, private companies that vend research to libraries (like Elsevier) could hold onto it much longer. So the research that has been paid for with your tax dollars would no longer be available to everyone for the public good; instead, it would only be available to the libraries that can afford to pay for it (which is a consistently dwindling number of libraries, I might add). Right now the White House is doing a Request for Information (RFI) about this bill. Please go forth and let them know that you think the public should have direct, free access to the research that they funded, if you feel strongly about it.