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Open Access Overview Focusing on open access to peer-reviewed research articles and their preprints This is an introduction to open access OA for those who are new to the concept. But for those who read it, it should cover enough territory to prevent the misunderstandings that delayed progress in our early days.
If this overview is still too long, then see my very brief introduction to OA.
The book home page includes links to OA editions and a continually growing collection of updates and supplements. I welcome your comments and suggestions. Peter Suber Open-access OA literature is digital, online, free of charge, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions.
OA removes price barriers subscriptions, licensing fees, pay-per-view fees and permission barriers most copyright and licensing restrictions. There is some flexibility about which permission barriers to remove.
For example, some OA providers permit commercial re-use and some do not.
Some permit derivative works and some do not. But all of the major public definitions of OA agree that merely removing price barriers, or limiting permissible uses to "fair use" "fair dealing" in the UKis not enough. The only constraint on reproduction and distribution, and the only role for copyright in this domain, should be to give authors control over the integrity of their work and the right to be properly acknowledged and cited.
For a work to be OA, the copyright holder must consent in advance to let users "copy, use, distribute, transmit and display the work publicly and to make and distribute derivative works, in any digital medium for any responsible purpose, subject to proper attribution of authorship Sometimes I refer to them collectively, or to their common ground, as the BBB definition.
When we need to refer unambiguously to sub-species of OA, we can borrow terminology from the kindred movement for free and open-source software.
Gratis OA removes price barriers alone, and libre OA removes price barriers and at least some permission barriers as well. Gratis OA is free of charge, but not free of copyright of licensing restrictions.
Users must either limit themselves to fair use or seek permission to exceed it. Libre OA is free of charge and expressly permits uses beyond fair use.
In addition to removing access barriers, OA should be immediate, rather than delayed, and should apply to full texts, not just abstracts or summaries. OA is compatible with copyrightpeer reviewrevenue even profitprint, preservation, prestigequalitycareer-advancement, indexing, and other features and supportive services associated with conventional scholarly literature.
The primary difference is that the bills are not paid by readers and hence do not function as access barriers. The legal basis of OA is the consent of the copyright holder for newer literature or the expiration of copyright for older literature.
Because OA uses copyright-holder consent or the expiration of copyright, it does not require the reform, abolition, or infringement of copyright law. One easy, effective, and increasingly common way for copyright holders to manifest their consent to OA is to use one of the Creative Commons licenses.
Many other open-content licenses will also work. Copyright holders could also compose their own licenses or permission statements and attach them to their works though there are good reasons not to do so without legal advice.
When copyright holders consent to OA, what are they consenting to? Usually they consent in advance to the unrestricted reading, downloading, copying, sharing, storing, printing, searching, linking, and crawling of the full-text of the work.
Most authors choose to retain the right to block the distribution of mangled or misattributed copies. Some choose to block commercial re-use of the work.
Essentially, these conditions block plagiarism, misrepresentation, and sometimes commercial re-use, and authorize all the uses required by legitimate scholarship, including those required by the technologies that facilitate online scholarly research. For works not in the public domain, OA depends on copyright-holder consent.
Two related conclusions follow: There is no vigilante OA, no infringing, expropriating, or piratical OA. Of course OA can be implemented badly so that it infringes copyright. But so can ordinary publishing.
Just like ordinary publishing. The campaign for OA focuses on literature that authors give to the world without expectation of payment. Let me call this royalty-free literature. There are two reasons to focus on royalty-free literature. First, it reduces costs for the provider or publisher.
Second, it enables the author to consent to OA without losing revenue. The most important royalty-free literature for our purposes is the body of peer-reviewed scientific and scholarly research articles and their preprints.
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