Open Publishing – SPARC and Science Commons

Peter Suber highlighted the joint initiative of SPARC and Science Commons (a “spin-off” of Creative Commons and W3C) in creating an addendum that allows authors to state what THEY would like done with their publications.

The Scholar’s Copyright Addendum Engine will help you generate a PDF form that you can attach to a journal publisher’s copyright agreement to ensure that you retain certain rights.


Each addendum gives you non-exclusive rights to create derivative works from your Article and to reproduce, distribute, publicly perform, and publicly display your article in connection with your teaching, conference presentations, lectures, other scholarly works, and professional activities. However, they differ with respect to how soon you can make the final published version available and whether you can authorize others to re-use your work in various ways. Below is a summary of the available options.

Science Commons / SPARC Addendum

Access – Reuse:
You retain sufficient rights to grant to the reading public a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial license or similar license that allows the public to re-use or re-post your article so long as you are given credit as the author and so long as the reader’s use is non-commercial. (This is a joint offering from Science Commons and SPARC and represents a new version of the former SPARC Addendum.)

Other Options From Science Commons

Immediate Access:
You retain sufficient rights to post a copy of the published version of your article (usually in pdf form) online immediately to a site that does not charge for access to the article. (This is similar in many ways to the MIT Copyright Amendment below)
Delayed Access:
You also have the right immediately to post your final version of the article, as edited after peer review, to a site that does not charge for access to the article, but you must arrange not to make the published version of your article available to the public until six months after the date of publication.

Additional Options from MIT

MIT Copyright Amendment:
Developed at MIT, this amendment is a tool authors can use to retain rights when assigning copyright to a publisher. It will enable authors to continue using their publications in their academic work at MIT, to deposit them into the MIT Libraries’ DSpace repository, and to deposit any NIH-funded manuscripts on the National Library of Medicine’s PubMed Central database. More information is available from the MIT Libraries.

(I’ll pass on PDF… 🙂 This is very welcome because it should encourage many authors to assert these rights. Knowing that you have a form of approach which has been worked out in advance it is easier to tell publishers what YOU want. Henry Rzepa and I have been through this – won some, lost some… but it’s just that bit harder for a publisher to reject authors’ wishes if they come supported by two formal bodies with a great deal of moral weight. If all authors did this – and there is nothing to lose – it raises the issue with publishers, and some will increasingly see the rationale
and adjust to the moral reality. Since this is a complex issue it is very valuable to have bodies who have thought through the most important issues.
So, when you publish, add this form. It will be fun to see how the publisher reacts.

This entry was posted in open issues. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *