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The Budapest Open Access Initiative was a conference launched by the Open Society Institute on February 14th, 2002. This small gathering of individuals is recognised as one of the major historical, and defining, events of the open access movement.
The opening sentence of the Budapest Open Access Initiative encapsulates what the open access movement is all about, and what its potential is: "An old tradition and a new technology have converged to make possible an unprecedented public good." The old tradition is academic scholars giving away the results of their research. Faculty at universities are paid by universities and/or funding agencies to produce research; disseminating the results in peer reviewed venues is an expectation. There is no monetary reward for the scholar in writing and publishing the results. The new technology is the Internet. Together, these have made it possible from everyone in the world to share knowledge freely and openly.
The 13 original signatories of the Budapest Open Access Initiative included some of the world's early leaders in the open access movement: Leslie Chan of Bioline International; Darius Cuplinskas, Melissa Hagemann, Rima Kupryt and István Rév of the Open Society Institute; Michael Eisen of the Public Library of Science; Fred Friend of the University College, London; Yana Genova of Next Page Foundation; Jean-Claude Guédon of the University of Montreal and Open Society Institute; Stevan Harnad of the University of Southampton /Universite du Quebec a Montreal; Rick Johnson of the Scholarly Publishing and Research Coalition (SPARC); Manfredi La Manna of the Electronic Society for Social Scientists; Monika Segbert, eIFL Project consultant; Sidnei de Souza, Informatics Director at CRIA, Bioline International; Peter Suber, Professor of Philosophy, Earlham College and The Free Online Scholarship Newsletter; Jan Velterop of BioMed Central.
Illustrating the rapid growth of open access, as of July 2005 over 300 organizations and 3,700 individuals have signed the initiative.