MIT Adopts University-Wide Open Access Policy

kfitz's picture

Peter Suber yesterday announced that the faculty of MIT had unanimously passed a new university-wide open access publishing policy, stating that:

Each Faculty member grants to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology nonexclusive permission to make available his or her scholarly articles and to exercise the copyright in those articles for the purpose of open dissemination. In legal terms, each Faculty member grants to MIT a nonexclusive, irrevocable, paid-up, worldwide license to exercise any and all rights under copyright relating to each of his or her scholarly articles, in any medium, provided that the articles are not sold for a profit, and to authorize others to do the same. The policy will apply to all scholarly articles written while the person is a member of the Faculty except for any articles completed before the adoption of this policy and any articles for which the Faculty member entered into an incompatible licensing or assignment agreement before the adoption of this policy. The Provost or Provost’s designate will waive application of the policy for a particular article upon written notification by the author, who informs MIT of the reason.

While some argue that the presence of the possibility of a waiver makes this policy fall somewhere short of a mandate, this nonetheless represents a huge step forward, both for the principle of open access and for the viability of institutional repositories as means of collecting and disseminating scholarship.


Clancy Ratliff's picture

scratching my head

I’m not sure what this means on the ground. What about when a journal requires a professor from MIT to sign over copyright? Wouldn’t the journal’s policy supercede MIT’s open access policy? Are all faculty required to submit their pre-publication papers to MIT’s repository before sending them out to journals (when the faculty members still have the copyright)? How would they enforce a policy like that? Would journals be less likely to publish those papers if they are already, in a sense, published in MIT’s repository? I thought I knew a lot about open access and copyright, but I guess I don’t…this policy isn’t the least bit clear to me. Is the policy there to send a message to journals that they won’t get to publish anything by MIT faculty unless they allow a copy to be stored in the repository? I hope it works, if so.