Open Letter to OUP; request to repudiate H.R.3699 and Research Works Act

Dear Nigel Portwood,

I am an alumnus of Oxford University (Balliol, BA, MA, DPhil) and write to urge OUP to repudiate H.R.3699 and the Research Works Act promoted by the American Association of Publishers of which OUP is a member.

The AAP has proposed a bill which effectively legislates the restriction of access to scholarly publication with the sole intention of raising the income of publishers. I and many others feel this is unethical, immoral and unworthy of any organisation committed to the dissemination of knowledge. Some commentators have described it as an act of war by the publishing industry on the scholarly community. Balanced and factual accounts are given by Richard Poynder ( and related posts in his blog).

Already academic publishers are distancing themselves from this Act. MIT Press (link above) has stated:

“The AAP’s press release on the Research Works Act does not reflect the position of the MIT Press; nor, I imagine, the position of many other scholarly presses whose mission is centrally focused on broad dissemination.

I can see every reason why OUP should issue a similar, or even stronger, message repudiating the AAP’s position. I hope that you can assure me OUP was not involved in creating the AAP’s position and ask you to consider the downsides of belonging to an organisation such as AAP.

[This is not the first time that the publishing industry has created anti-scholarship initiatives – I wrote to OUP about the iniquity of the “PRISM” alliance in 2007. I doubt it will be the last.]


[PS. I do not have personal email addresses and assume that “press” will reroute this mail. In any case I have a heavily followed blog and will post this letter there – maybe someone at OUP will forward it if required].

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