UC and Authors Alliance: "Outcomes, Questions, and Answers: ‘The Right to Deposit (r2d) Uniform Guidance to Ensure Author Compliance and Public Access’"

The United States Office of Management and Budget uniform guidance for grants and agreements contains the following language in 2 CFR §200.315(b):

To the extent permitted by law, the recipient or subrecipient may copyright any work that is subject to copyright and was developed, or for which ownership was acquired, The Right to Deposit (R2D)under a Federal award. The Federal agency reserves a royalty-free, nonexclusive, and irrevocable right to reproduce, publish, or otherwise use the work for Federal purposes and to authorize others to do so. This includes the right to require recipients and subrecipients to make such works available through agency-designated public access repositories.¹

This provision, the Federal purpose license, has existed in some form since at least 1976. Some federal agencies, including the Department of Energy (DOE), have already been relying on it in the implementation of their public access plans. The Federal purpose license applies upon creation of an article, overriding all subsequent terms and licenses. It provides a highly effective, non-disruptive, elegant and familiar solution for accomplishing the ends of the Nelson memo without having to rely on individual authors and institutions to protect this right or navigate differing institutional approaches. Leveraging the Federal purpose license could also provide consistency for articles and authors subject to policies from multiple granting agencies. . . .

If the Federal purpose license has already existed for a long time, and has new language clarifying that it can be used this way, does that solve the problem for authors?

It depends on the author’s funder. Agencies have rights in federally funded research publications, but they are not uniformly using them. Only some agencies are telling their grantees in agency guidance that the Federal purpose license covers sharing publications in agency-designated repositories. Other agencies aren’t relying on their own rights from the license, and instead advising grantees to work with their publisher and secure the rights to post their publications independently. The Federal purpose license does not help authors if they don’t know about it.


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Author: Charles W. Bailey, Jr.

Charles W. Bailey, Jr.