President Barack Obama (L) gets direction from White House science adviser John Holdren during an event to look at the stars with local middle school students and astronomers from across the country on the South Lawn at the White House in Washington, October 7, 2009. Credit: Reuters/Jim Young

(Reuters) – The White House has moved to make the results of federally funded research available to the public for free within a year, bowing to public pressure for unfettered access to scholarly articles and other materials produced at taxpayers' expense.

"Americans should have easy access to the results of research they help support," John Holdren, the director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, wrote on the White House website.

An online petition on the White House website demanding free access over the Internet to scientific journal articles arising from taxpayer-funded research drew 65,704 signatures.

The directive comes amid a changing landscape for publishing and the availability of information due to the Internet.

Scientists have long published the results of their work in scholarly journals, and many such publications have warned that open access would destroy them and the function they provide the scientific community.

The White House move also came some six weeks after the suicide of Internet openness activist Aaron Swartz, who was renowned for making a trove of information freely available to the public.

Swartz ran into trouble in 2011 when he was indicted by a federal grand jury on charges related to allegedly stealing millions of academic articles and journals from a digital archive at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

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