On September 29th, California Governor Jerry Brown signed AB609, The California Taxpayer Access to Publicly Funded Research Act, into law. This first-of-its-kind legislation requires that articles reporting on research funded by the California Department of Public Health be made openly available to the public through online repositories no later than 12 months after publication in a peer-reviewed journal.
This legislation, while quite narrow in the scope of content it covers, is a step forward for both California, and for Open Access. This is the first time that a U.S. state has required that any subset of articles reporting on their funded research be made openly available to the public. California, a state known for being a legislative pioneer, understands the power that information sharing can have on developing new products and industries, spurring economic growth, and creating jobs. Based on the highly successful national NIH Public Access policy, AB 609 creates an opportunity for other states to see how an Open Access policy might be deployed on a local level, and lays the groundwork for the adoption of even stronger policies.
As with any legislative endeavor, the passage of AB609 took time and effort. Over the past 18 months, a strong California-based coalition of higher education institutions, libraries, for-and-non-profit organizations, researchers, Open Access publishers, and others committed their time and energy to advocating for AB609, meeting with their elected officials and members of relevant committees, signing onto letters of support and activating their local networks. This coalition is reflective of the growing national network of supporters of Open Access, and sends a strong signal that communities can effectively and efficiently organize in support of policy initiatives that help advance the open sharing of the results of publicly funded research.