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Open access and espace: What about copyright?

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Copyright and open access

Making a manuscript available open access, either via open access publishing or self-archiving, does not mean ignoring copyright legislation and obligations. Open access works within the existing copyright system.

Traditional publication agreements

  • Authors transfer their copyright interest to someone else e.g. journal publisher
  • The extent of this transfer depends on the agreement between the parties. 
  • The rights an author retains will affect subsequent control of the work.
  • More than 65% of subscription-based journals allow for self-archiving a version of the published manuscript.
  • Authors can try to negotiate with the publisher to retain some rights by adding an addendum to an agreement.

Open access journals

  • OA publishers generally allow the author to retain all or most rights.
  • The author grants the publishers a license to publish.
  • Many OA and traditional journals are now applying Creative Commons licenses to articles.
  • In traditional journals, this generally requires payment of a fee for open access.
  • CC licenses liberalise the use of a work, with conditions, without giving up the copyright.

Which version and where?

What can be made available, and where, will be dependent on the publisher and journal guidelines on re-use of copyright assignment. 

  • Sometimes the published version of an article can be made open access, or a publisher may require a different version be used
  • There may be an embargo period between the time the article is published and when it can be made available via open access.

This will also impact on posting articles to scholarly sharing sites such as ResearchGate or Academia.edu. 

  • As a general rule, however, publishers don’t allow “organised or systematic distribution” of published articles. 
  • Check the terms of your author agreement before posting to these sites.

The best option is to place the document into espace. You can then link to the espace record from anywhere, including these sharing sites, blogs and your Curtin staff profile page.

Copyright and espace

Library staff check publishers' policies on copyrighted material prior to placement in espace. The full text will only be included if one of the following apply:

  • The author has retained the copyright for the material and allows permission.
  • The copyright agreement between the publisher and the author allows the full text to be made available.
  • Permission has been granted by the publisher on request.