"In recent years, scientific publishing has changed profoundly as the Internet simplified access to the scientific journals that once required a trip to a university library. That ease of access has caused many to question why commercial publishers are able to dictate the terms by which publicly funded research is made available to the public that paid for it.As this article points out, the taxpayer pays not only for the research, but the publication costs -- yet is charged once again for reprints.
Open access proponents won a big victory when Congress voted to compel the National Institutes of Health to set a policy of hosting copies of the text of all publications produced by research it funds, a policy that has taken effect this year. Now, it appears that the publishing industry may be trying to get Congress to introduce legislation that will reverse its earlier decision under the guise of strengthening copyright protections. ..."
A researcher who publish the results of his or her research is often required to sign over the copyright to the publisher, thus losing the right to make copies of the paper for a class without paying a fee for offprints. The cost to a library for a journal subscription is pretty high as well. No wonder the publishers are fighting this new law (about a year old), and are trying to get it overturned or modified heavily in their financial favor.
The existing law was meant to make the results of research more available to the public and this would be a major step backward.