The University of Liège wants to guarantee the strict respect of the intellectual property rights of its researchers, most particularly in the specific context of Open Access. A legal analysis carried out by Laurence Thys, a lawyer at the Graulich Library, in collaboration with the Legal Affairs Department of the ULg and the ORBi team, has endeavored to:

  • identify the rights and obligations of the various actors (Institution, author, public user);
  • define the needs, expectations and queries of our researchers concerning self-archiving;
  • study the problems of authors’ rights and the question of the transfer of rights to the publisher within the specific context of Open Access.

This study has allowed an action framework for the various participants to be established.

On the part of the authors

Numerous publishers (see statistics SHERPA) today allow authors to archive a specimen of their articles (be it preprint or postprint) in the repositories of their institution, amongst them Annual Reviews, Cambridge University Press, Elsevier, Springer, etc.

Access to the full text within ORBi will only be "open" (i.e. authorized from the internet) if the author has the required rights, e.g.:

  • if he/she has not signed a transfer of authors’ rights to the publisher in connection with electronic distribution; apart from subsequent renegotiation of the agreement concluded with the publisher, this being principally the case for works published prior to 1993;
  • if the publisher of the work authorizes self-archiving in an institutional directory.

In order to assist authors to learn about the policies in terms of self-archiving on the part of the journal in which they have published or wish to publish, an interface has been established from ORBi towards the SHERPA-RoMEO site which registers editorial policies in this regard.

Where publishers are not included in SHERPA-RoMEO, the author who wishes to distribute the full text of a publication via the internet must get in direct touch with them. Specific mailing templates (in French and English) are available for this purpose in the tool box [restricted access]. Once the publisher's reply has been received, it is furthermore recommended to authors that they transmit it to the ORBi team, which will then communicate the information to SHERPA/RoMEO in order for them to update their database.

For any document put on open access on ORBi, the author must explicitly authorize the electronic distribution of his/her document over the Internet via ORBi by signing a repository license. Regarding collective works, the license will automatically be transmitted to all authors who are members of the University of Liège, to the first author (if this person is not attached to the ULg) and to all co-authors for whom an email address was provided by the depositor.

This license assures the University that the author retains the necessary rights for electronic distribution of his/her works. To this effect, the author is solely responsible for their content.

Publications for which access cannot be open will nevertheless be accessible via the University’s intranet. Furthermore, a request-a-print system has been set up. It allows the individual sending of a copy of an article to a user who promises to use such a copy solely for educational or scientific purposes.

Legal assistance is assured to the depositor via:

  • a legal guide [French only], written by Laurence Thys, lawyer and assistant at the Graulich Library. This guide provides an overview of questions of a legal nature that could result from the publication and distribution of a work, particularly within the framework of Open Access;
  • a tool box [French only, restricted access] which, among other things, offers mailing templates addressed to publishers - most particularly an amendment or supplement to the agreement concluded by the author with the publisher - to be submitted to the latter so as to get authorization to distribute a work in Open Access as well as a request for repository authorization for a specific document;
  • a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) [French only].

On the part of the users

In respect of the principles set forth in the "Budapest Open Access Initiative" (BOAI, 2002), the modalities of exercising free access must "give authors control over the integrity of their work and the right to be properly acknowledged and cited". Contrary to a fair number of preconceived notions, the Open Access does in no way deny or jeopardize the rights to intellectual property of authors to their works (see also "Myths and false ideas about Open Access").

The users of the directory may read, download, copy, distribute and print the work as long as they respect the fundamental rights of the ULg authors. In addition, open access to a full text on ORBi is subject to the acceptance of a user’s license in which users commit to the following:

  • to indicate, in any reference quote, the source of the work and the name(s) of the author(s);
  • to abstain from modifying, transforming or adapting the work without the explicit consent by the author;
  • to refrain from using the work for commercial purposes (i.e. having the principle intention or pursuing the objective of obtaining commercial advantages or financial compensation);
  • not to use the work in any way that could harm its being used in other forms.

On the part of the Institution

By displaying a proactive policy in favor of Open Access and in encouraging the members of the University community to choose self-archiving, the Institution wishes to ensure its organizational role as distributor of educational and research material while at the same time assuming responsibilities vis-à-vis its researchers in respect to intellectual property.

The Institution has also strived to respect, to the best possible extent, the rights of each intervening party and commits, should a person feel to have been wronged and informs the ORBi team accordingly, to immediately limit access to the litigious document during the time of the period is being investigated.

The Institution undertakes to punctually help members of the community who might encounter certain problems as a result of entering, in good faith, a work into ORBi (e.g. modification of the editorial policy in terms of self-archiving) or who would simply like to get specific legal information (such as before signing a contract with a publisher).

For further information please consult the: Webbibliography - Legal aspects.