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Parliamentary chamber passes resolution addressing access to information in positive terms

(IPA/IFEX) - The following is a 24 May 2007 IPA press release:

German Parliament Supports Open Access and Publishers

Geneva, 24/05/2007

The Bundesrat, Germany's second parliamentary chamber, has agreed to a resolution addressing the issue of open access and scientific publishing. IPA welcomes this statement as balanced and constructive.

At a recent meeting in May the Bundesrat took a detailed position on open access. Responding to a Communication from the EU Commission on scientific information in the digital age the statement welcomes the call for the freest possible, immediate and open access to information.

At the same time, the Bundesrat emphasises the central role of publishers in the scientific information system. The statement acknowledges the open access experiments pursued by publishers.

"Publishers, and particularly the scientific journals they publish, play a pivotal role in the scientific information system." The resolution continues "Over the past years, the publishing industry has undertaken substantial investments in the area of "online publishing", thereby already contributing to an efficient dissemination of information. In doing this, publishers constantly compete for authors and readers. This ultimately guarantees the high quality of scientific publications.

"The Bundesrat regards open access publication as an additional method of knowledge dissemination, in particular with regard to research results. However, the Bundesrat also points out that open access does not avoid the costs of knowledge processing and knowledge transfer, but rather shifts them from the users to the authors; that there are also reasons in favour of publishing scientific publications through a publisher."

IPA welcomes the statement by the Bundesrat. Says IPA Secretary General Jens Bammel: "IPA appreciates the balanced arguments and constructive tone chosen by the Bundesrat. Open access is a great opportunity which must be explored. At the same time care must be taken that we do not lose what is in fact working so well in other business models. This debate should be conducted in a measured way, based on sound arguments and empirical facts reflecting the high standards of academic debate in the journals themselves. The Bundesrat statement is a welcome contribution to this debate."

Adds Jens Bammel: "The principle must be that business models for publishing scientific information should not be mandated by governments but should prove their own value and sustainability in the marketplace, and with the researchers who freely choose the most appropriate journal for each article."

A full English translation of the German text is available at: http://www.internationalpublishers.org/images/pdf/PR_Copyright/bundesrat_ds139_07_en.pdf

The original text in German is available at: http://www.bundesrat.de/cln_051/SharedDocs/Drucksachen/2007/0101-200/139-07_28B_29,templateId=raw,property=publicationFile.pdf/139-07(B).pdf

The International Publishers Association (IPA) is the global non-governmental organisation representing all aspects of book and journal publishing worldwide. Established in 1896, IPA's mission is to promote and protect publishing and to raise awareness for publishing as a force for cultural and political advancement worldwide. IPA is an industry association with a human rights mandate. IPA currently has 65 member associations in 53 countries.

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