Understanding Open Access

What is it?

Open-access (OA) literature is digital, online, free of charge, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions. (from Peter Suber's A Very Brief Introduction to Open Access.)

There is a good overview of open access at the UBC Health Library Wiki, with information specific to OA initiatives in Canada.

What's the goal?

Removing access barriers to this literature will accelerate research, enrich education, share the learning of the rich with the poor and the poor with the rich, make this literature as useful as it can be, and lay the foundation for uniting humanity in a common intellectual conversation and quest for knowledge. (from the Budapest Open Access Initiative.)

  • Material that is digital and online is easier to access, distribute, archive, and reproduce.
  • Material that is free of charge is available to everyone, regardless of economic status.
  • Material that is free of most copyright and licensing restriction, can be reproduced, transferred to different formats, and used to create new materials.

As a reader, you get access to more stuff, and you can do more things with that stuff.
If you make your own work available through open access, more people get access to your work, and they can do more things with it.

This is especially suitable for scholarly, peer-reviewed material, as authors of such material are not paid for their articles anyway, and have an interest in gaining the widest possible audience.

How does it work?

There are two ways to publish open access material:

Open access and musicology?

Open access is important int eh field of musicology in two ways:

  • Musicology is a scholarly field, and will benefit from the largest possible distribution and access to the body of peer-reviewed work it produces.
  • Musicology is devoted to the study of creative material, and the ability to access, reproduce, and reuse music is critical to its work - although this can be outside the scope of open access, looking at creative commons licensing may be more useful.

Creative Commons and music?

The open access model works well for scholarly work, because the creators do not usually derive an income from that work. People who create music often do derive an income for their work, and may not wish to make it available free of charge. However, musicians may want to meet the other requirements of open access (digital, online, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions,) and Creative Commons is a licensing alternative that supports this.

Creative Commons licences are a set of licences that state in plain terms what a user is allowed to do with a creation. These licences are significant for two reasons:

  • You can copy works. All of the basic licences let you copy a work, and define circumstances under which you can distribute copies.
  • They are simple, prewritten licences. Anyone can use one regardless of legal experience.

If a creator makes something available under one of the Creative Commons licences, you can look at the specific licence to determine what you are allowed to do with that creation.

As well as creative works, Creative Commons licences can be easily used to licence open access material, there are several licences that meet the open access requirement for material to be free of most copyright and licensing restrictions,

For further information on Creative Commons licences, see the Creative Commons website.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License