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We have had extensive discussions with scientists, publishers and copyright experts about how authors who want to make their work freely accessible and useable can accomplish this while ensuring that they receive proper credit for their work. We have concluded that the best way to do this is for the authors and/or publishers to retain copyright on the work, but to irrevocably license the work to the public domain subject to the condition that proper attribution be given whenever the work is reproduced or redistributed. This practice is analogous to the way in which open source software is produced. By retaining copyright, authors and/or their representatives retain the right to enforce the terms of the license, but not the right to dictate how or by whom the work is used.
We have worked with copyright experts to produce a version of such a license. Articles published by the forthcoming Public Library of Science journals will be released under terms of this license. We encourage other journals and publishers to do the same. We also encourage authors use this license to replace or amend the copyright agreements they sign when publishing in journals with restrictive copyright policies.
We welcome your comments and suggestions.
This document is in the Public Domain, and may be reproduced and redistributed for any purpose.
The purpose of this Public Library of Science Open Access License (referred to here as "the License") is to facilitate the free and unrestricted worldwide distribution of scientific and medical research reports. The License is meant to ensure that the information contained in any work to which the License applies will be placed into, and will remain in, the public domain.
Works to which the License applies may be reproduced, distributed, and used for any purpose without restriction, subject only to the condition that any reproduction or redistribution of copies of the work must itself be subject to this License. [See "Terms and Conditions," below]
II. HOW TO USE THIS LICENSE
At a minimum, any author(s) wishing to distribute their work(s) under the terms of this License must include the following notice ("the Notice") in all copies of the work under their control:
III. DELAYED EFFECTIVENESS
Authors may delay the effectiveness of the License as applied to their work(s) in order, for example, to provide a journal publisher with an initial "window" during which the publisher (and the publisher alone) may reproduce and redistribute the work. Because such exclusivity is inconsistent with the terms of the License, the License cannot become effective until after the expiration of any such exclusive term.
In any such case, the Notice should be modified to read as follows [additional term in italics]:
IV. TERMS AND CONDITIONS
This License applies to any work ("the Work") to which a notice is affixed stating that it is released under the terms of the Public Library of Science Open Access License ("the Notice").
Permission is hereby irrevocably granted to reproduce, distribute, transmit, or otherwise make the Work available in any medium, provided that all copies of the Work (or any significant portion of the Work) (a) shall include the Notice or its substantial equivalent, (b) shall be itself distributed under this License, and (c) shall include proper attribution of authorship of the Work. The aggregation of the Work with other works which are not based on the Work - such as but not limited to inclusion in a publication, database, broadcast, compilation, or other media - does not bring the other works in the scope of the License, nor does such aggregation void the terms of the License for the Work.