Science  17 Oct 2008:
Vol. 322, Issue 5900, pp. 359

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  1. "Free" Gets Sold

    Berlin-based publisher Springer is buying BioMed Central (BMC), the world's largest publisher of open-access journals. Launched in 2000 by entrepreneur Vitek Tracz, BMC pioneered the concept of making full-text articles freely available at the time of publication. Along the way, the company began charging authors, who once could publish for free; the fee for its priciest journals is now $2390 per article. The company publishes more than 180 titles and last year had profits of €15 million. The sale price was not disclosed. The deal shows that “open access is a successful business model,” says epidemiologist R. Brian Haynes of McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada, a member of the board of trustees for London-based BMC. Springer will retain the open-access model and has “no immediate plans” to raise author fees, says a spokesperson.

  2. NASA Keeps Mars Mission on Track

    Despite technical troubles, the Mars Science Laboratory remains on track for an October 2009 launch. But at a 10 October press conference, NASA officials said that although technical problems are under control, costs are rising. Originally budgeted at $1.6 billion, the lab is now pegged at $1.9 billion, says Doug McCuistion, director of NASA's Mars Exploration Program. Others at NASA expect the total to exceed $2 billion and say the overruns could affect additional efforts to study Mars and other planets. The program's next hurdle will be a NASA review in January.

  3. Legal Monkey Business

    A legal battle is brewing over primate research in Bremen, Germany. Last year, Bremen's legislature passed a nonbinding resolution to phase out primate research in the city-state. Andreas Kreiter, a neuroscientist at the University of Bremen, is the only one conducting such studies, and his animal license runs out on 30 November. However, on 2 October, city authorities informed him that they intend to reject his application. The university and Germany's main research funding agency, DFG, have all said that that would violate Germany's constitutional guarantee of “research freedom.” The university has threatened legal action if the city rejects the license, appealing all the way to the country's highest court if necessary, a move that experts say would impact other ongoing efforts to limit animal research across Germany.