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Open Access: Related Issues

An overview of open access (OA) basics and resources.

Copyright and Author's Rights

This is for informational purposes only and is not legal advice. If you would like legal advice regarding copyright or your author's rights, contact GSU Legal Affairs.

A copyright owner controls who can

  • make copies of the work,
  • distribute copies of the work,
  • perform or display the work publicly, and
  • make derivative works, like translations, adaptations, and reinterpretations.

 U.S. Copyright Code, 17 U.S.C. § 106

A copyright owner can share some or all of those rights with others by transferring (assigning) ownership or granting licenses. 

Copyright is automatic with the creation of the work, though you can transfer your copyrights.

Publishers usually ask for the transfer of all copyrights through a Copyright Transfer Agreement (CTA) to publish books or articles. Authors don't need to transfer all of their copyrights for this to occur. The publisher really only needs the right to distribute. Authors should know the Copyright Basics, learn their rights and how to exercise them and consider using an addendum to preserve their author's rights.

Another alternative is to consider using a Creative Commons License, especially for items in open access journals or repositories. Creative Commons licensing does not replace copyright; it just lets others use works in certain ways that the author chooses, without them having to ask the author's permission first, and encourages creativity, sharing, and innovation. For more information, check out these links:

Digital Repositories

Digital Repositories are the primary means for collecting and displaying open access materials, at least green open access materials. They generally come in two varieties:

  • Institutional repositories - collect a university's scholarship. ScholarWorks @ Georgia State University is an example.
  • Subject specific digital repositories - collect scholarship on a particular subject or group of subjects., which collects math and science open access articles, is one example. Another is PubMed.


Open access policies or mandates, or sometimes Mandated Open Access, refers to situations where authors are required to make their research available in an open access repository. Sometimes funding bodies require that any research resulting from grant funds be submitted to an open access repository. Federally funded research in the U.S., such as NIH granted research, has a mandate. Some universities also require authors to submit their articles to their institutional repository, for example MIT has a mandate. GSU does NOT currently have a mandate. SHERPA/JULIET provides a database of research funders and their open access policies that researchers may find helpful.

Coalition-S is an international body with a well-known Plan-S mandate. United States Federal Agency mandates are being developed are discussed on the Federal Public Access Mandates tab.

Scientist meets publisher