Kudos to PK Board member Hal Abelson, who persuaded MIT's faculty to make all of their scholarly papers available for free on the web. According to Wired, this is the “first university-wide policy” of its kind.
This decision is particularly timely, given the attacks on open access publishing by commercial publishers and their friends in Congress. In fact, the MIT decision goes beyond most other open access policies. The open access policy at the National Institutes of Health, for example, requires submission of NIH-funded research 12 months after that research is public. Harvard's open access policy only applies to three of its ten colleges (Arts and Sciences, the Law School, and the Kennedy School of Government). By contrast, under MIT's policy, there is no waiting period, and it applies university-wide.
Like Harvard's policy, the faculty resolution includes a clause that allows researchers to opt out of the open access system for certain publications. But we agree with Hal that as more and more researchers make their papers available online, the number opt-outs will decrease.