Legal aspects

What are the rights of scientific publication authors?

The spreading of institutional archives and OA publishing has caused most commercial publishers to draw up policies that allow articles to be stored on open access platforms.

A table of licences for archiving in institutional repositories can be found on the website SHERPA/RoMEO.

Depending on the policies adopted, the publishers are classified as:

Green - allow pre print and post print archiving

Blue - allow post print archiving

Yellow - allow pre print archiving

White - do not allow any archiving

To guaranteed user rights of the publications, including the right to store in an institutional archive, it is good practice for the author to request the inclusion of a specific clause when signing the publication contract. This clause is called Addendum. Pre-prepared outlines of addenda have been drawn up by Science Commons and foresee maintaining reproduction, dissemination and communication, re-use and user rights for teaching and research purposes of the work.

The Creative Commons (CC) licences allow the author to define the rights that the author reserves with the document users, according to the "some rights reserved" model. In the world of digital communication, where conference interventions, course texts and non-published papers are diffused and shared in real time on the web, CC licences allow the author to define the usage modes, the context and the use of his work.

The Politecnico has a pre-defined Addendum that can be downloaded from the link:

Is the Politecnico di Milano commandeering the rights of its scientific authors' work?

No. This policy grants specific non-exclusive authorisations to the Politecnico di Milano. Those who publish maintain ownership and full control of the copyright over their own papers, subject only to prior authorisation. 

The professors and researchers can exercise copyright in any way they believe necessary, including transfer of rights to a publisher, if they so desire. However, the Politecnico di Milano continues to be the licence holder and the holder of the right to distribute the article via its repository. 

To avoid conflict with the publisher with which there is an intention to publish, the publisher's policy on self-archiving and compatibility of the publishing contract with the non-exclusive licence granted to the Politecnico di Milano by the university's Open Access policy should always be checked on the Sherpa/Romeo website, informing the publisher beforehand if there is an institutional mandate in place, to protect oneself in the event that it is a publishing company that does not support Open Access.

Furthermore, if the work is the result of publicly-funded research, or a project funded by the new European research funding plan Horizon2020, pursuant to the Decree Law dated 8 August 2013 finally approved by Parliament on 3rd October 2013 converted with amendments by the Law no 112 dated 7th October 2013, and based on the participation rules drawn up by the European Commission, each article must be published in Open Access and made freely accessible.

What happens if any legal problems arise when this policy is being observed?

The university OA work group comprises members of technical staff who are specialised in the library area, research enhancement service and professors, with technical skills in managing intellectual property rights. The group can provide help to support the policy and provide help to professors and researchers in difficulty.

How can an article be used that has both a publishing contract and a Creative Commons licence?

Some articles in the collection of the Politecnico di Milano's open access articles appear with a publishing copyright contract (e.g. "c2009 American Physical Society") in addition to a Creative Commons licence. The publishing contract may stated that copyright for the article has been transferred from the author to the publisher, or that the author has used a model supplied by the publishing company while waiting for copyright to be transferred, but this contract must be integrated with Addendum provisions or similar provisions that avoid conflicts with the CC licence in the Politecnico's favour and the publishing contract.

If an article appears with a CC licence, it is this licence that determines how the article can be used. The Politecnico di Milano has chosen to assign one of the standard Creative Commons licences to articles under its Open Access policy: Attribution (CC BY). This particular type of CC BY licence means that the author is free to share (copy, distribute and transmit the work) and modify (adapt) the works in the following conditions:

 Attribution - CC BY: allows others to copy, distribute, show and carry out copies of the work and other works deriving from it, on the condition that the indications of who the author of the work are maintained.

 Attribution - NonCommercial: CC BY - NC: allows others to copy, distribute, show and carry out copies of the work and other works deriving from it, only for non commercial purposes.

 Attribution - Share Alike: CC BY - SA: allows other to only distribute works deriving from the work with an identical or compatible licence to the one granted with the original work.

 Attribution - No Derivative Works: CC BY-ND: allows both commercial and non commercial redistribution of the work, until it is transmitted in full and unchanged, giving credit to the author.

 Attribution - NonCommercial/ Share Alike: CC BY-NC-SA: allows third parties to modify, redistribute, optimise and use a work as a non-commercial basis, to the point that credit and licence is given to their new creations via the same terms.

 Attribution - NonCommercial/ No Derivative Works: CC BY-NC-ND: this is the most restrictive of our six main licences, allowing third parties to download the works only and share them with others, so that the right credit is given, but they cannot b changed in any way or used commercially.

More information on the licence: Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 international (CC BY 4.0)