Open access pioneer BioMed Central has been acquired by Springer, has learned.

Open access is the movement, recently bolstered by Congress, to make studies available for free online, instead of charging taxpayers who funded the research (and others) to read them. Many prominent scientists have backed it, signing on with BioMed Central and a non-profit open access publisher, the Public Library of Science.

BioMed Central publisher Matthew Cockerill announced the news in an email today to editors of BMC's journals.

Those in the open access movement had watched BioMed Central with keen interest. Founded in 2000, it was the first for-profit open access publisher and advocates feared that when the company was sold, its approach might change. But Cockerill assured editors that a BMC board of trustees "will continue to safeguard BioMed Central's open access policy in the future." Springer "has been notable...for its willingness to experiment with open access publishing," Cockerill said in a release circulated with the email to editors.

Read more about Science 2.0, which takes open access even further, with scientists publishing raw experimental results, here, and about an open access milestone in physics, here.