Open Access in Belgian legislation

On September 5th 2018, the Belgian Official Journal published an Open Access provision in the Belgian law. This law gives authors the right to make scholarly publications available in Open Access with a maximum embargo period of  6 months for Science Technology and Medicine (STM) and 12 months for Social Science & Humanities (SSH), if the publication is a result of research funded for at least 50% by public funds.

What does this mean concretely?

  • The law allows the author to make his/her work available in Open Access, but does not require the author to do so. The author has complete freedom.
  • The publisher cannot oppose this right, for example via a clause in the publishing contract. Such a clause is not enforceable.
  • Only scholarly articles are subject to the law, other publications such as books, chapters, conference proceedings in books, are not.
  • Only the final peer reviewed manuscript can be used. This is the version after peer review, but not in the layout of the publisher. The publisher’s version can only be used if the publisher agrees.
  • The law applies to everyone with a link to Belgium. E.g. authors with the Belgian nationality, working at a Belgian institution or whose research has been funded by a Belgian funder.
  • The author has the right to make the scholarly article available to the public free of charge in open access, after the embargo period.
  • The law can be applied retroactively, which means the author can decide to open up old articles.

Attorney Joris Deene explained the law in a webinar during the Open Access week of 2018. You can find the recording on Youtube with the titel "Open Science Policy funder requirements H2020, FWO, FNRS and Legal aspects in Belgium" and starts at 33:00.

Source reference

artikel XI.196 van Wetboek van economisch recht (NL)

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Last modified Feb. 4, 2020, 1:29 p.m.