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Open Access: Related Issues

Introduction to Open Access Resources and Information

Scientist meets publisher

Copyright and Author's Rights

This is for informational purposes only and is not legal advice. 

Copyright is established in Copyright Act  and grants authors certain copyrights, sometimes called author's rights, to works they create. These include the right:

  • to produce, reproduce, perform or publish any translation of the work,
  • in the case of a dramatic work, to convert it into a novel or other non-dramatic work,
  • in the case of a novel or other non-dramatic work, or of an artistic work, to convert it into a dramatic work, by way of performance in public or otherwise,
  • in the case of a literary, dramatic or musical work, to make any sound recording, cinematograph film or other contrivance by means of which the work may be mechanically reproduced or performed,
  • in the case of any literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work, to reproduce, adapt and publicly present the work as a cinematographic work,
  • in the case of any literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work, to communicate the work to the public by telecommunication,.
  • to present at a public exhibition, for a purpose other than sale or hire, an artistic work created after June 7, 1988, other than a map, chart or plan,
  • in the case of a computer program that can be reproduced in the ordinary course of its use, other than by a reproduction during its execution in conjunction with a machine, device or computer, to rent out the computer program, and
  • in the case of a musical work, to rent out a sound recording in which the work is embodied,

    and to authorize any such acts.

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. Open Uleth Scholarship (OPUS) is the University of Lethbridge's institutional repository. 
  • 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. The University of Lethbridge does NOT currently have a mandate. SHERPA/JULIET provides a database of research funders and their open access policies that researchers may find helpful.

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