Scholarly open-access publishing was designed to be both gratis (free to access online) and libre (free to re-use with proper attribution). However, in my experience, many — if not most — of the publishers and journals on my lists require copyright transfer and include copyright statements on the articles they publish, copyrighted by the publisher or journal. Given the vast number of journals and publishers now on my lists, it may be that a majority of open-access journals require copyright transfer and are not “libre” at all.
I’ve observed that most open-access journals and publishers based in South Asia and West Africa require copyright transfer. Typically, they have a form, in either PDF, HTML, or DOC format, that the author(s) must sign, scan, and return. The copyright transfer statements generally look something like this:
Here are some example copyright transfer forms from various journals:
- The Standard International Journals [.pdf]
- International Journal of Health Sciences and Research [.doc]
- International Journal of Medical Science and Education (IJMSE) [.pdf]
- Albert Science International Organization [.html]
- International Journal of Research in Library Science [.pdf]
Also, most of these for-profit journals that require copyright transfer also charge authors to publish. In the case of for-profit publishers, I don’t think it makes sense for a scholarly author to both transfer copyright and pay to publish.
I’ve seen “copyright transfer” forms that are so poorly written they don’t actually transfer copyright. Here are some examples:
- International Journal of Advanced Engineering, Science and Technological Research (IJAESTR) [.doc]
- International Journal of Research in Science & Technology (IJRST) [.pdf]
- GreenField Advanced Research Publishing House [.doc]
There are also some journals that say that by submitting a paper, the authors automatically transfer copyright. Here are two examples:
First, the International Journal of Advanced and Applied Sciences indicates that copyright is automatically transferred to the journal:
Perhaps deceptively, the journal displays the CC BY logo on its main page. Its articles bear copyright statements like this:
Here’s the second example:
DAMA International. They say,
Copyright Policy: Submission of a manuscript implies that the work has not been published before, and that it is not under consideration for publication elsewhere. Acceptance of a manuscript will automatically transfer all copyrights of the manuscript to store, publish, distribute, access, and make commercial use of the article.
Many — perhaps most — scholarly open-access journals require copyright transfer. Some of the copyright transfer forms are so poorly drafted they don’t actually transfer copyright. It makes no sense to pay a for-profit company to publish your article while simultaneously surrendering your copyright to the firm. Some open-access publishers and journals imply a contract that automatically transfers copyright from author to publisher when the author submits a paper for publication. □