In 2012, The Ohio State University Libraries adopted the Faculty Open Access Resolution, which requires Ohio State Libraries’ faculty to grant the University a license to make their scholarly articles openly accessible.  The goal of this initiative, and open access in general, is to increase the accessibility of research so that others can easily make use of it. According to Peter Suber, open access works are “digital, online, free of charge, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions.” While free of many restrictions, open access works are still protected by copyright law; publicly available does not mean copyright free.

An important contributor to the open access movement is Stevan Harnad.  In 1994, Harnad posted a message to a discussion list on electronic journals hosted by the Virginia Polytechnic Institute.  Harnad’s message, titled “A Subversive Proposal”, suggested that researchers should make their papers freely available.  The message sparked significant discussion and Harnad is now credited with initiating the concept of self-archiving.  In 1995, Harnad’s original message and the email discussion it provoked were collected into a book: Scholarly Journals at the Crossroads: A Subversive Proposal for Electronic Publishing.  The full copy of that book is available through HathiTrust, under an open-access, Google digitized license. In honor of the proposal’s twentieth anniversary, Richard Poynder posted an interview with Harnad titled “The Subversive Proposal at 20”, which looks back at the proposal’s impact and discusses the development of the open access movement.

Scholarly articles are increasingly available as open access documents.  Learn more about open access on the Copyright Resources Center’s open access page, or by reading other articles tagged “open access” on the Copyright Corner Blog.


Marc Jaffy is a practicum student at the OSU Libraries Copyright Resources Center and is currently a Masters student at the Kent State University, School of Library and Information Science