The annually renewable public-access policy first implemented by the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) a year ago was made permanent in a spending bill signed into law on 11 March. The provision specifies that all NIH-funded investigators must submit an electronic version of their peer-reviewed manuscripts to the National Library of Medicine's PubMed Central. The manuscripts must be made publicly available no later than 12 months after publication.

The new law specifies that it must be implemented in a manner consistent with copyright law. Congressman John Conyers (Democrat, Michigan) is hoping to use that clause to upend the policy. His Fair Copyright in Research Works Act would amend US copyright law to forbid federal agencies from making funding agreements, such as NIH grants, conditional on authors making copies of their peer-reviewed articles freely available.