A new group, and a new acronym, have joined the open access discussion. COPE, or Compact for Open-Access Publishing Equity, is proposing a way to provide reliable support to open access journals. As of today, five universities have signed the compact: Cornell, Dartmouth, Harvard, MIT, and UC Berkeley.
Traditional academic journals are largely supported by their subscriptions; and most of that money comes from universities through their libraries. This means that if you aren't associated with a college or university, you may not be able to access the research if you can't afford your own subscriptions.
Open access journals are trying to make academic research freely available to all - without a subscription. But they still have bills to pay. Many open access publishers require authors to pay processing fees. The COPE group asks that universities and funding agencies develop a model for paying these processing fees. This will allow both models: traditional and open access to be supported. Please read their overview for more details.