Open Access Does Not require Republishing and Reprinting Rights Stevan Harnad 15 Jan 2004 15:06 UTC

In an editorial entitled "Open Access and Public Domain,"
in D-Lib Magazine December 2003 Volume 9 Number
Editor Bonita Wilson wrote:

    "'open access'... is occasionally confused with public domain, i.e.,
    that material easily accessible on the net is also freely available
    for reuse of any kind... As an example of open access materials that
    are not in the public domain, D-Lib Magazine content is available,
    without charge, to anyone with an Internet connection; materials
    contained in the magazine are subject to copyright claims and other
    proprietary rights...  Republication or reprinting of articles
    requires permission from the... copyright [holders]... Most of
    the material in D-Lib Magazine, though provided via "open access,"
    is not in the public domain."

I think this is entirely correct. D-Lib, not being a peer-reviewed
journal, does not fall within the scope of the Budapest Open Access
Initiative (BOAI), but if it *were* a peer-reviewed journal, it would
certainly be an open-access ("gold") journal, despite the fact that
republication and reprinting [note, this does not refer to printing
off a hard copy for one's own use, but pass printing and distribution]
require permission.

There is absolutely no problem with this. The uses already permitted
include all those that research requires: reading, downloading, storing,
printing off, computer-processing and analyzing, and linking.

This also happens to be what a user can normally do with everything else
he finds on the web (that is not behind a toll-barrier). He may do all
the above, but he may not (1) republish it (or an altered version of it),
either in a paper edition or online on the web or an email list and (2)
may not pass it off as his own. He may, however, insert links to its
URL in other published materials.

That's the default option on the web; it's what comes with the territory
when one can access digital material with a click. More requires

It is also the default condition for Open Access.

I would only make one slight correction: Granting those further rights
and permissions does not necessarily entail putting the material in the
public domain. As I understand it, an author who does the latter more
or less renounces all legal rights (including the requirement that his
authorship should be acknowledged in all republications and that the text
should not be corrupted). Various creative-commons licenses grant users
republishing and reprinting rights without having to put the material
in the public domain.

    "Re: The Urgent Need to Plan a Stable Transition"

    "Re: Science 4 September on Copyright"

    "Re: Legal ways around copyright for one's own giveaway texts"

    "Re: Copyright: Form, Content, and Prepublication Incarnations"

    "Public Access to Science Act (Sabo Bill, H.R. 2613)"

But for the purposes of Open Access, the only thing that needs to
be noted is that the right to republish and reprint is not a necessary
condition for open access (though in some cases it may be a welcome

Stevan Harnad

NOTE: A complete archive of the ongoing discussion of providing open
access to the peer-reviewed research literature online (1998-2004)
is available at the American Scientist Open Access Forum:
        To join the Forum:
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Unified Dual Open-Access-Provision Policy:
    BOAI-2 ("gold"): Publish your article in a suitable open-access
            journal whenever one exists.
    BOAI-1 ("green"): Otherwise, publish your article in a suitable
            toll-access journal and also self-archive it.