Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Elsevier's license for PMC-archived articles

Elsevier has released the license it will use when it deposits articles in PubMed Central (PMC) or UKPMC on behalf of funding agencies who have paid it to do so.  Excerpt:

Elsevier has, through certain arrangements with funding agencies, agreed to post sponsored final documents (hereafter referred to as “documents”) used to generate the definitive published journal article, to PubMed Central (PMC) or PMC mirror sites for non-commercial purposes.

Documents posted to PMC are protected by copyright and are posted to PMC by permission of Elsevier. At the time of deposit, posted documents included all changes made during peer review, copyediting, and publishing. PMC and PMC mirror site host organizations are responsible for all links within the document and for incorporating any publisher-supplied amendments or retractions issued subsequently. For a document that has been sponsored, the published journal article, guaranteed to be such by Elsevier, is available for free to non-subscribers on Elsevier’s publishing platforms including ScienceDirect.

For non-commercial purposes users may access, download, copy, display and redistribute documents as well as adapt, translate, text and data mine content contained in documents, subject to the following conditions:

  • The authors' moral right to the integrity of their work is not compromised....
  • If documents are copied or downloaded for non-commercial research and education purposes the appropriate bibliographic citation (authors, journal, article title, volume, issue, page numbers, DOI and the link to the definitive published version on ScienceDirect) should be maintained. Copyright notices and disclaimers should not be deleted.
  • Use of documents for commercial purposes is prohibited. Commercial purposes include....
  • Any translations, for which a prior translation agreement with Elsevier has not been established, must prominently display the statement: “This is an unofficial translation of an article that appeared in an Elsevier publication. Elsevier has not endorsed this translation.”
  • For permission to use documents beyond permitted here, visit [here]....

Documents posted to PubMed Central are without warranty from Elsevier of any kind....


  • I'm glad to see that the license grants significant re-use rights, for example to "access, download, copy, display and redistribute documents as well as adapt, translate, text and data mine content contained in documents...."  It could go further but this is a notable step up not only from other Elsevier licenses but from the default deposit in PMC, which is limited to fair use.
  • It seems that this license only applies when Elsevier deposits the published editions of Elsevier articles.  In that case it would apply to all articles deposited on behalf of the eight members of the UKPMC Funders Group, including for example the Medical Research Council and the Wellcome Trust.  But it would not apply when it deposits peer-reviewed but unedited author manuscripts, as it does for the NIH and Howard Hughes Medical Institute.