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The Research Works Act raised concerns that it threatened the NIH open-access policy and statements from many organisations expression opposition to it. Elsevier emerged as one of the key players behind the act.

Tonight Elsevier has put up a web page withdrawing their support for the Research Works Act. One would hope that this might signal the end of the RWA.

They note, however, that ’[…] while withdrawing support for the Research Works Act, we will continue to join with those many other nonprofit and commercial publishers and scholarly societies that oppose repeated efforts to extend mandates through legislation.’

I’m struggling slightly to read their specific meaning, but they seem to on one hand (claim to) want dialogue and to support open-access (their take on this, at least), provided they are part of it (that’s my reading of it), but will continue to oppose government mandates to ‘push’ open-access policies.

Given government is the major funder of the research, why should a publisher to oppose the government having a mandate for the research they fund? Surely if they paid for the research, they have a right to say how they’d like it to be distributed?

But at least it’s a step in the direction of leaving the open-access policy stand.

Update: Cameron Neylon has shared his initial thoughts, which run to similar lines as to my own but with a better understanding. (Neylon has followed this much more closely than me!) Note in particular his remarks about FRPAA, the Federal Research Public Access Act, which I did not mention.

(H/T Cameron Neylon, Fabiana Kubke and @openscience, via twitter.)