I guess we should be happy that the mainstream media is covering OA, but this article is a bit confused in places and probably does a little bit of harm.
Owens, Simon (2012, July 23) Is the Academic Publishing Industry on the Verge of Disruption? US News. Retrieved July 26, 2012 from http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2012/07/23/is-the-academic-publishing-industry-on-the-verge-of-disruption
Confused: parallel with ebooks? This comparison is not really relevant or helpful. Academic ebooks have been steadily growing in use, and they don't, in general, require a specialized reader.
The modern version of peer review is much more recent than mid-1600s.
A bit of harm: publishing in a journal makes the work "unassailable"? (!?!?) Unable to be attacked, questioned, or defeated? and "the more prestigious the journal, the more unassailable the article becomes" - oh that's not good at all. All work should be questioned, regardless of publication venue. Eek.
OA fees are typically a few thousand dollars? Well, some are, but many are less than $1500.
publishers have asserted that because of the layers of editorial review prior to a manuscript's publication, the publisher owns the copyright of the manuscript
Um, no. The copyright is owned by the author or the author's employer in a case of work for hire. The author signs over copyright using an agreement. The publisher doesn't own the copyright just because they manage peer review. Some journals and conferences do peer review but the author just gives the venue exclusive publishing rights for a fixed, short period.