A bill that would ban copyright on journal articles and other write-ups of federally funded scientific research could have numerous unintended consequences, critics say. Even those who agree with the bill's intent—to promote open access to scientific literature—fear the proposed legislation could backfire.

The bill is a "well intentioned but perhaps overly simple solution to a very complex problem," said Jerome H. Reichman, a professor at the Duke University School of Law who serves as a consultant on intellectual property rights to the US National Academy of Sciences.

Perhaps the biggest danger posed by the bill, Reichman said, is that scientists' control over their published works may be eroded further than it already is under the current scientific publishing model.

Introduced 3 weeks ago by Rep. Martin Sabo (D-Minn.), the bill prohibits copyright protection for works produced from research substantially funded by the Federal Government.

Under current federal law,...

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