Yesterday the German parliament passed a law granting scientists the right to make their research available online after a period of twelve month independent of former agreements with publishers. On first glance this appears to be a good thing. Yet as always the devil lies in the detail. The law excludes the regular everyday research done in universities. This limitation has been justly criticized. Moreover the legislation falls short in another respect which is especially important to the humanities: The legal right is limited to publications in periodicals. Scholarly monographs and papers in edited volumes therefore cannot be made legally available online after the embargo period. So it comes back to the question under which conditions book publishers allow authors to make their books Open Access.

Heinz Pampel put together a great overview (in German) of the debates around the so-called ‘Zweitveröffentlichungsrecht’ on his blog wisspub.net.

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Marcus Burkhardt

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