Academic Publishing: Open Access as an Alternative Licensing Market for Academic Publishing and Scientific Communication

31 Pages Posted: 15 Oct 2022

See all articles by Marie-Christine Janssens

Marie-Christine Janssens

Leuven University (KU Leuven); KU Leuven - Centre for IT & IP Law (CiTiP)

Date Written: September 30, 2022


This paper aims to demonstrate how the academic publishing sector provides an example of an open licensing model that has impacted particular copyright markets. The development of open access (OA) repositories and journals and ensuing open-licensing models have reshaped the academic publishing sector. As this paper will explain, this evolution did not always happen as all stakeholders anticipated. Challenges to realize this goal primarily stemmed from the social and legal context, as is explained in Section II. These did – and continue to - hamper the development of a genuinely open licensing mechanism for the academic publishing sector, yet the latter gradually took shape. Section III will elaborate on the surrounding legal context. After sketching the problematic relationship between copyright law and open access publications in general, the paper gives particular attention to the relevance of the rules of copyright contract law. Section IV will look into the justification, boosters, and origins of the open access movement and provide an overview of its different variants and shades ranging from green to gold and many others in between. This Section will also zoom in on the reactions to these evolutions by publishers and legislators. Finally, we will briefly assess the recent initiatives of Plan S, aiming at transforming the scholarly publication system and pushing publishers to flip their journals from paywall-protected subscriptions to OA. We conclude that the OA movement has matured after several years/decades of experimentation in such a way that it is difficult to turn back the clock. On the other hand, it is sad to observe how the costly subscription system is barely impacted and the green form of OA is far from being the standard in academic environments. Further successes of the OA system will essentially require a shift in social norms and a review of institutional practices as regards the evaluation of research output. However, some support from the EU legislator will be equally beneficial, e.g. through the introduction of an EU-wide secondary publication right.

Keywords: Copyright, Open Access, Academic publishing

Suggested Citation

Janssens, Marie-Christine, Academic Publishing: Open Access as an Alternative Licensing Market for Academic Publishing and Scientific Communication (September 30, 2022). Available at SSRN: or

Marie-Christine Janssens (Contact Author)

Leuven University (KU Leuven) ( email )

Tiensestraat 41
Minderbroedersstraat 5
Leuven, B-3000

KU Leuven - Centre for IT & IP Law (CiTiP) ( email )

Sint-Michielsstraat 6 box 3443
Leuven, 3000

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