Open Access News

News from the open access movement

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Model publishing agreement from BioOne

BioOne Releases New Model Publication Agreement, a press release from BioOne, April 7, 2008.  Excerpt:

BioOne is pleased to announce the release of a model publication agreement that addresses current trends in copyright assignment and requirements by NIH and other funding agencies for digital repository deposits.  While the Agreement was developed at the request of several BioOne publishers, it may be of interest to any scholarly publishing organization that is seeking a clear, concise, and legally vetted publication agreement....

The...agreement allows author(s) to retain copyright, while granting the publisher both a temporally limited and exclusive right to first publish, and a perpetual, non-exclusive right to publish, distribute, and sublicense.   In response to NIH’s Public Access Policy...and other [OA] mandates, the Agreement allows authors to deposit their work in digital repositories directly, or permits the publisher to deposit to the National Library of Medicine on their behalf....

The final Agreement is freely available on the BioOne website.  An accompanying “roadmap” is also available to provide publishers adopting the Agreement with guidance on specific author and publisher rights and amendable sections.

Also see the agreement guide (March 2008).  Excerpt:

At the outset of this project, BioOne established a number of goals that governed the development of its Model Publication Agreement:

[Goal 1] To create an agreement in broad conformity with principles contained in notable authors addenda (SPARC, MIT, University of Michigan) and the SURF New International Model Agreement for Authors (October 2006):

  • Copyright remains with the author;
  • Author grants the publisher a limited license to publish;
  • Author retains the right to use the article in the course of academic activities;
  • Author is allowed to make the article publicly accessible in a digital repository;
  • Author is allowed to prepare derivative works from the article;
  • Publisher provides an unsecured copy of the published version of the article in PDF (or similar) format....


  • This is an excellent agreement for a handful of reasons.  It shows one easy, natural way for publishers to accommodate authors who are subject to OA mandates or choosing to use an author addendum.  It shows that journal publishers do not need, and never needed, the conventional bundle of exclusive rights.  It's a model for publishers, including non-OA publishers, sincerely looking for a way to balance author and publisher rights.  It suggests that an actual win-win balance between authors and publishers, even non-OA publishers, is attainable --which you would never guess from the May 2007 position paper on balancing author and publisher rights from ALPSP, AAP/PSP, and STM.
  • Some of the author addenda that BioOne took as models allow the author to release the work under one or another CC license.  But nothing in the BioOne agreement or guide discusses its compatibility with any of the CC licenses.  This is the one point on which I'd want additional clarity and, if necessary, additional flexibility.
  • Kudos to BioOne for its enlightened criteria, and to Pamela Pasti, the lawyer from Morrison & Foerster LLC who drafted the agreement to meet them.

Update (4/14/08). Also see the comments of Kevin Smith.