U.S. President Bush today signed into law the federal spending bill that includes provisions for NIH-funded research. Final, peer-reviewed manuscripts of NIH-funded research have to be publicly available at PubMed Central no later than 12 months after publication.
The Open Access mandate for NIH-funded research was voluntary since 2005. Fewer than 5% of research papers were actually made publicly available. The process and discusson about making this requirement mandatory as part of the Fiscal Year 2008 Labor, HHS, and Education Appropriations Bill was going on for many months (as reported previously by me and others), including a lobbying effort to stop this mandate called PRISM.
A large part of biomedical research is funded by the NIH and this change in NIH policy will probably have a big impact on how most biomedical journals do their business. A wonderful christmas present for all scientists.