Yes, editors and publishers perform a professional service, and will be able to do it more efficiently than the government, but the cost is passed along to libraries who have to buy the databases instead of the monographs that are still required for academe. What if all PhD students had to take a class where they apprentice on a journal for a semester, and instead of publishing a monograph, taught by profs on the tenure track who fulfill a promotion requirement to edit a journal’s special issue every five years? There would still need to be permanent editors, of course, but the publishing machine would be populated by the scholars who want the public to read their work! Would we see a change?
The amateurish attempt at scary rhetoric would make me laugh if this weren’t do sad.
The Research Works Act will prohibit federal agencies from unauthorized free public dissemination of journal articles that report on research which, to some degree, has been federally-funded but is produced and published by private sector publishers receiving no such funding. It would also prevent non-government authors from being required to agree to such free distribution of these works. Additionally, it would preempt federal agencies’ planned funding, development and back-office administration of their own electronic repositories for such works, which would duplicate existing copyright-protected systems and unfairly compete with established university, society and commercial publishers. —The Association of American Publishers.