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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.

Copyright is established in title 17 of the U.S. Code and grants authors certain copyrights, sometimes called author's rights, to works they create as outlined in chapter 1 section 106. These include the right:

  • To reproduce the work in copies or phonorecords;
  • To prepare derivative works based upon the work;
  • To distribute copies or phonorecords of the work to the public by sale or other transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease, or lending;
  • To perform the work publicly, in the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and motion pictures and other audiovisual works;
  • To display the work publicly, in the case of literary, musical, dramatic, and choreographic works, pantomimes, and pictorial, graphic, or sculptural works, including the individual images of a motion picture or other audiovisual work; and
  • In the case of sound recordings, to perform the work publicly by means of a digital audio transmission.
  • In addition, certain authors of works of visual art have the rights of attribution and integrity as described in section 106A of the 1976 Copyright Act.

Copyright is automatic with creation of the work, though you can transfer your copyrights. Publishers usually ask for transfer of all copyrights through a Copyright Transfer Agreement (CTA) in order to publish books or articles, but authors needn't transfer all of their copyrights for this to occur. The publisher really only needs the right to distribute. Authors should know the Copyright Basics and should learn their rights and how to exercise them as well as 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 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. They are sometimes considered resources and sometimes services. For an overview of institutional repositories see Institutional Repositories, Tout de Suite by Charles W. Bailey, Jr. The 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 an example.


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.

Scientist meets publisher

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Laura Burtle
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