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Open Access Law Program

The Open Access Law Program, a part of the Science Commons publishing project, supports “open access” to legal scholarship.

The Open Access Law Program, a part of the Science Commons publishing project, supports “open access” to legal scholarship. “Open Access” publishing provides free access to scholarly literature without undue copyright and licensing restrictions. This project is one part of the Science Commons Publishing Project, which itself is working to support open access to scholarly research in a wide range of disciplines including agriculture, entomology, biology, anthropology and now law.

The Open Access Law Program (OAL Program) consists of a set of resources to promote open access in legal publishing. These resources include:

  • Open Access Law Journal Principles. The OAL Program encourages law journals to commit to a set of OAL Journal Principles. These Principles require that a journal 1) take only a limited term license, 2) provide a citable copy of the final version of the article, and 3) provide public access to the journal’s standard publishing contract. In return, the author promises to attribute first publication to the journal. Here is a list of journals adopting the Principles.
  • Open Access Law Author Pledge. For authors wishing to commit publicly to open access ideals, we have established an OAL Author Pledge. This pledge commits authors to only publish law review articles in journals that adhere to a minimum OAL commitment. Here is a list of authors who have signed the Pledge.
  • Open Access Model Publishing Agreement. The OAL Program also provides a Model Agreement that embodies the OAL Journal Principles in a fair and neutral contract that is easy for both authors and law reviews to adopt. It also provides for an easy mechanism for authors and journals to adopt Creative Commons licenses to make their work more easily available.

The Open Access Law Program follows the same approach of Creative Commons in the cultural industries – by removing legal and logistical barriers to open access. But in academic contexts, the Science Commons project adds an important ethical principle that does not apply in the context of the arts: that knowledge be made universally accessible. By providing simple, standardized principles and agreements, Science Commons seeks to encourage the broadest possible uptake of open access ideals in legal publishing. Already a significant number of law journals have adopted the Open Access Law Journal Principles or have publication policies that are consistent with the Principles. Science Commons will continue to work to add new journals to this list.

As part of the OAL Program, Science Commons also encourages authors to deposit citable electronic documents in open access repositories, and encourages the use of Creative Commons licenses to allow authors to express the freedoms they wish to secure to the public.

About the OAL Program

The OAL Program is led by Dan Hunter, an assistant professor of legal studies at the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, and Mike Carroll, a professor of law at Villanova Law School and a member of the Board of Creative Commons. The OAL Program is initially focused on American legal publishing, but Science Commons supports international efforts to make legal publishing open access.

Like Creative Commons, Science Commons believes that robust interaction between the public and private domains is essential to innovation and progress. The Open Access Law Program of Science Commons is designed to enable authors, journals, publishers, libraries, and universities to promote the “some rights reserved” approach of Creative Commons in scholarly legal literature.