They launched a PR War. Its aim is to stop a requirement that research funded by the NIH be placed on the agency's PubMed Central within 12 months of publication. The House has passed it in the new budget, the Senate is considering it.
Getting research onto the Web would end the publishers' current exclusive on older research, and would cost them money.
So the Association of American Publishers have launched a Web site, PRISM, which aims to convince lawmakers that "Public access equals government censorship."
It's the product of Eric Dazenhall (above), profiled in Business Week as "the pit bull of public relations" for his defense of such great institutions as Exxon-Mobil and its attacks on such nefarious groups as Greenpeace. Critics call him a corporate Karl Rove.
The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that the Association of Research Libraries has gotten angry enough to send its members a PDF "talking points memo" calling the AAP's rhetoric inaccurate. (Next, a stern talking to.)
Peter Suber, the open access project director at Public Knowledge, has covered PRISM and the backlash against it on his blog. He says lobbying is more of a threat to open access than the message put out by PRISM.
In the past, questions of academic publishing were elite topics argued mainly among elites. With PRISM, the publishing industry has broken out of this frame, targeting politicians and the public.
Without some serious pushback the first essential of open source could easily be lost.