[This information is limited to German copyright legislation. Therefore, it only pertains to contracts signed in Germany Pursuant to the territorial principle publications from other countries are subject to the specific legislation that is applicable in the countries of origin.]
What does Open Access mean?
Open Access provides free-of charge access to scientific information on the internet and allows for accessing qualified publications that are stored on a reliable, long-term basis. Open Access in terms of the "Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities" requires an irrevocable commitment to copyright, including an accurate declaration of authorship. Open Access publications should be published in "at least one repository, using suitable technical standards [...],standards such as Open Archive rules, the archive being [...] maintained by a well established organisation that seeks to enable open access, unrestricted distribution, interoperability, and long-term archiving". Open Access for scientific purposes can only be successful if, not least, processes for the evaluation of Open Access publications are developed, in order to maintain standards of good scientific quality and practice. You can find more about Open Access on the open-access.net website of the project of the same name.
Why Open Access?
Publishing by the rules of Open Access assures the authors the right to their intellectual property, it short-circuits publication procedures, enables quick and flexible access, offers increased visibility and thus an increased frequency of citations, allows for an integration in digital documents and objects and supports the sustainable archiving of electronic publications.
The golden and the green way of Open Access
The Open Access policy and practice generally distinguishes between a golden and a green way of publication.
The golden way refers to the submission of scientific articles to Open Access journals right from the start, but it principally also refers to Open Access publications of other original contribution types (monographs, collective works etc.). Like texts that are published in printed form, these texts will usually be subject to a process of quality assurance, in most cases this is a peer review process. In most cases a publication agreement is signed with the publishing house, specifying the conditions the authors grant the publishers, as well as terms and conditions for the free use of the publication. Such agreements are often supplemented by a licence for Open Access publications, whereby the authors can grant the users a wide range of rights.
The green way to Open Access specifies a simultaneous or retrospective publication of documents on an institutional or scholarly Open Access document server. This mainly concerns Preprints and postprints, but also other document types such as monographs, research or conference papers.
A Preprint corresponds to a manuscript that has been submitted to a journal (or publication of monograph). A preprint is a scientific piece of work that has not been reviewed by peer experts, hence its quality has not been evaluated by peers and its publication has not been recommended yet. Generally the intellectual property rights are still held by the author in such cases. Hence, the publication of preprints does not pose a problem.
Postprints are defined as authorised versions with proven quality that have been cleared for publication but without the publishing house layout. As long as no other agreement has been contracted, the author of a journal article or unpaid-for contribution to a collective work will normally be returned the user right to the publication of a postprint. If, for instance for reasons of harmonising citation frequency, the author wishes to use a publishing house version (layout, particularly pagination) he or she will need permission from the publishing house. In this case, it might help to consider that citation frequency is of interest for the publishing house, too, as an increase in the citation frequency will result in a higher approval of the journal article/monograph.
§ 41 UrhG (Urheberrechtsgesetz, German copyright law) is particularly applicable in cases where a work is out of print, or where property rights are insufficiently exploited by the publishing house. The respective section outlines that, two years after the publication of a work by a publishing house, an author can claim his or her right to the publication if the work is not, or insufficiently, exploited by the publishing house itself. For instance, this is the case if a second edition of the work is not published within two years. If an author?s appeal for publishing another edition is to no avail, he or she can re-publish a monograph by Self-Archiving.
In case of publications for which a publishing agreement was signed before January 1st, 1995 (i.e. for the period between January 1st, 1966 until December 31st, 1994), authors were allowed to claim their right to an online publication by December 31st, 2007, by using such rights actively and transferring property rights to repositories etc. or by disagreeing to an automatic transmission of such rights to the publishing houses (§ 137 l transition regulations for new forms of use). (This deadline could be protracted until March 31st, 2008 for re-negotiations with the publishing house.)
Since the termination of this deadline for conferring property rights, the online exploitation rights for publications are held by the publishing houses. It is not permitted to transfer the rights to third parties retrospectively without the publisher's consent.
Funding of Open Access publications
Once an author makes his or her work accessible on an institutional or scholarly document server, he or she is not charged any fees. A contribution will automatically be uploaded to the database by depositing a publication on the publication database and transmitting the simple user rights to the provider of a repository by written consent.
The situation is different for some Open Access journals where financing has been transferred from the user to the authors, but according to a study by the Kaufmann-Wills-Group, not even half of the Open Access journals are financed by authoring fees. Scientists who wish to publish in Open Access journals should check for the form and sum of publication fees beforehand. In most cases, it will be helpful to look at the respective journal's website. An index of Open Access journals is provided by the DOAJ (Directory of Open Access Journals) or the EZB (Elektronische Zeitschriftenbibliothek/database of electronic journals).
Refinancing authoring fees
Some Open Access publishers offer an institutional membership. Libraries pay an annual subscription fee for such membership and thus enable the members of their institution to publish contributions in the pertinent journals either free of charge or for a reduced fee. In such cases, the authors should contact their libraries.
Some funding organisations do not only provide for funding research projects, but also for publication costs. The Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (German Research Association) allows recipients of its grants to apply for a publication flat rate, which can be saved in due course of the duration of funding peirod. The Volkswagen Foundation, too, funds publications within the framework of the research projects it supports, and it explicitly includes Open Access publications.
It is worth while to check the funding guidelines of the respective funding organisations, or contact them directly.
Open Access publishing on document servers
Repositories can store all full text publications in their own right (contributions to a collective work with a specific author, journal articles and monographs) in Open Access format.
While institutional repositories and university publishing houses generally only allow members of their own higher education institute to publish on their repository, publication on relevant scholarly document servers is independent from institutions.