Many authors refrain from making their publications freely available worldwide as secondary publications on the Internet because they are unsure whether this is permitted or not. However, there are a number of ways to legally republish articles. Find out more about the legal options here:

Austrian copyright law
Self-archiving policies of publishers
Creative Commons licenses

Austrian copyright law

The law of copyright protects works and similar other performances. "Works within the meaning of the Copyright Act are idiosyncratic intellectual creations in the fields of literature, sound art, fine arts, and cinematography (§1(1) UrhG). Copyright protection begins automatically with the creation of a work, without further action.

No matter in what form you publish, you cannot lose your right to authorship during your lifetime! Moral rights and exploitation rights protect your intellectual and economic interests and grant you, as the author of a work, various personal and property rights:

  • The author's moral rights protect the intellectual interests of the author in his work. These include, among others, the right to recognition of authorship (Section 19 UrhG) or the right to determine whether and with which author designation the work is to be provided (§20 UrhG).
  • The exploitation rights protect the economic interests of the author, so that your work may only be exploited by yourself or with your consent. The exploitation rights include, among others, the right of reproduction (§ 15 UrhG), the right of distribution (§ 16 UrhG), or the right to make available (§ 18a UrhG).

Exploitation rights

With regard to publications, the aforementioned exploitation rights include, for example, the reproduction of your work (such as making print and digital copies), the distribution of physical copies or the distribution of a digital version on a data carrier, or even putting the publication online on a web server.

The author of a publication can use his exploitation rights himself or have his work exploited by another party, e.g., a publisher. For the latter, a transfer or partial transfer of the exploitation rights—keyword: copyright transfer agreement—to the publisher is necessary. Unfortunately, many publishers insist on an exclusive or sole right to exploit your work, so you as the author no longer have any exploitation rights to it.

Author contracts

We therefore recommend that you not sign author contracts in which you grant "exclusive" or "sole" rights to publishers. Instead, talk to publishers to negotiate fair terms in your contract. At least the retention of a simple right of use by you, e.g., for public access to a non-profit repository like TUGraz OPEN Library , should be contractually agreed. Such an adaptation could read something like this: "The publisher agrees that the author retains the non-exclusive right to place a digital copy of the document on a publicly accessible academic non-profit server for an unlimited period of time after publication by the publisher." Although you are also granted similar rights under the Austrian Secondary Exploitation Right (see below), these only apply if all the conditions listed there are met.

It would be even better if, conversely, the publisher claimed only a simple right of use for the publication of your work. You could then decide for yourself how to have your work used in the future. In practice, however, this only happens with dedicated open access publishers, who often make it a condition that you place your work under a (specific) Creative Commons license (see below).

Secondary exploitation rights (§37a öUrhG)

As part of the 2015 copyright amendment, a "secondary exploitation right" for authors of scientific contributions was also adopted in Austria, closely based on the German legal text. The law came into force on October 1, 2015. The aim of this law is to promote secondary publications by way of open access (green OA) and increase the proportion of research papers in scientific repositories.

Since 1.10.2015 applies according to §37a öUrhG:

„Secondary exploitation rights of authors of scientific contributions

The author of a scientific contribution, which was created by him as a member of the scientific staff of a research institution financed at least in part with public funds and which has been published in a collection appearing periodically at least twice a year, has the right, even if he has granted the publisher or editor a right to use the work, to make the contribution publicly available in the accepted manuscript version after twelve months have elapsed since the first publication, provided that this does not serve any commercial purpose. The source of the first publication must be indicated. "Any agreement to the detriment of the author to the contrary shall be invalid."


Collections contributions (§36 öUrhG)

In addition to the secondary exploitation right, the provision on collections is also relevant (§36 UrhG):

§ 36. (1) If a work is accepted as a contribution to a periodical collection (newspaper, magazine, yearbook, almanac, etc.), the author shall remain entitled to otherwise reproduce and distribute the work, unless otherwise agreed, and unless it can be inferred from the circumstances that the editor or publisher of the collection is to acquire the right to reproduce and distribute the work therein as an exclusive right in the sense that the work may not otherwise be reproduced or distributed.

(2) In the case of contributions to a newspaper, such exclusive rights shall expire immediately after the appearance of the contribution in the newspaper. In the case of contributions to other periodically published collections as well as contributions accepted for a non-periodically published collection for which the author is not entitled to remuneration, such an exclusive right shall expire if one year has elapsed since the end of the calendar year in which the contribution appeared in the collection.

Further information:

Urheberrechtsnovelle 2015 (text is only available in german)
Zweitveröffentlichungsrecht – jetzt auch in Österreich - PDF (text is only available in german)
ZVR in Deutschland: FAQ (text is only available in german)
Understanding and Negotiating Publicatioon Contracts – PDF

Self-Archiving Policies of Publishers

Many publishers allow for a secondary publication as part of their Self-Archiving Policies, usually with specific conditions such as an embargo period and use of the manuscript version. (see also Helping Authors Find Author Accepted Manuscripts)

An overview of the regulations for individual journals or publishers can be found here: SHERPA/RoMEO

Larger publishers typically have dedicated websites with information on open access publishing:

Policies for journal articles:

De Gruyter 
Taylor & Francis
Wiley US
Wiley Author Compliance Tool

Policies for book chapters:

De Gruyter
Palgrave Macmillan
Taylor & Francis

Policies for Graduate publications.

List UKRCORR Knowledgebase 
Information of University Regensburg

Creative Commons Licences

Creative Commons (CC) is a non-profit organization that offers standard license agreements through which authors can easily grant the public rights to use their works. In the field of science, CC licenses are mainly used to enable the dissemination of publications in the sense of Open Access. More and more publishers are also attaching corresponding CC licenses to their OA articles (usually found on the first or last page of an article).

How do CC licences work?

CC licenses consist of up to four legal modules:

  • Attribution (BY): the name of the author must be mentioned.
  • Non-commercial (NC): the work may not be used for commercial purposes.
  • No Derivatives (ND): the work may not be modified.
  • Share Alike (SA): the work must be distributed under the same license after modification.

This results in six core licenses with different degrees of restriction (see next point). All six licenses have the legal module attribution (BY) in common, which means that the author's name must be mentioned when using someone else's work. In addition to appropriate author credits, the license used and a link to the license text must always be included.

To make CC licenses understandable for legal laypeople, Creative Commons also provides an easily understandable summary ("Deed") in addition to the full license text. As a third version, there is also a machine-readable version in RDF format.

What CC licences are available?

To make CC licenses uniquely identifiable, they are labeled with a version number. The current version is 4.0. The following table shows the six available licenses in this version. The link here leads to the summary ("Deed") or the complete license text:

CC BY 4.0
Deed - Licence    

CC BY Piktogramm
  • Attribution

CC BY-NC 4.0
Deed Licence
CC BY-NC Piktogramm
  • Attribution
  • Non-commercial use

CC BY-ND 4.0
Deed - Licence
CC BY-ND Piktogramm
  • Attribution
  • No derivatives

CC BY-SA 4.0
Deed - Licence
CC BY-SA Piktogramm
  • Attribution
  • Share alike   
Deed - Licence
CC BY-NC-ND Piktogramm
  • Attribution
  • Non-commercial use
  • No derivatives
CC BY-NC-SA Piktogramm
  • Attribution
  • Non-commercial use
  • Share alike   

In addition to the six standard licenses, there is also the CC0 license ("CC Zero"), which releases works into the public domain. You can find out more about this license by following this link.

Which CC license should I choose?

Of the six CC licenses, only the CC BY and CC BY-SA licenses meet the requirements for "free licenses".

For Open Access publishing of scientific articles, the CC BY (Attribution) license variant has established itself as the standard in recent years. This license best meets the Open Access definition according to the "Berlin Declaration". It states: "The authors and copyright holders of such articles grant to all users a free, irrevocable, worldwide, perpetual right of access to, and a license to copy, use, distribute, transmit and display the work publicly and to make and distribute derivative works, in any digital medium for any responsible purpose, subject to proper attribution of authorship."

Share alike (SA): Licenses with this legal module prevent the free choice of license for derivatives of your work. This option restricts the use of your work. If you cannot imagine a specific case that you want to prevent, you can do without this addition.

No derivatives (ND): Licenses with this legal module prevent, for example, your work from being translated or serving as a basis for further research or other use beyond common citation rules. This means that individual sections or chapters may not be included in teaching materials. In general, you should ask yourself: What form of use do I want to prevent and can this be achieved with an ND restriction? Licenses with an ND module are not in compliance with the "Berlin Declaration," which explicitly provides for the editing of publications and their distribution.

Non-commercial (NC): Even with licenses that include this legal module, you should ask yourself: What form of use do I want to prevent and can this be achieved with an NC restriction? Since there is no generally shared understanding of "non-commercial" (see also an extensive study commissioned by CC), licenses with an NC module contribute to the dissemination of your work under unclear conditions. Restrictive licenses only make sense if you are also willing to take action against a violation. Licenses with an NC module are also not in compliance with the "Berlin Declaration," which provides for use and distribution "for any responsible purpose."

CC Licence Chooser

The CC License Chooser can help you choose the right CC license.


Further information:

Disclaimer: All information on this page is for initial information only and cannot be legal or other advice, or replace such advice.