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The Equitable Access License

In accordance with the policy, Equitable Access to Scholarly Articles Authored by University Faculty, all UMD faculty members grant certain nonexclusive rights in their scholarly articles to the University of Maryland. This grant of nonexclusive rights, called the Equitable Access License, allows the University to distribute peer-reviewed versions of these articles free-of-charge to the general public, through DRUM, the University of Maryland’s online institutional repository. 

Under the policy, authors are not required to submit new scholarly articles to any particular type of journal, such as open-access journals. Instead, the policy is designed to ensure that authors retain the freedom to submit new work to the journals of their choice. The policy also includes waiver and embargo options to help protect authors’ freedom and control over their work.

If you are a non-faculty affiliate of the University of Maryland, you are also invited to join our open scholarship efforts by electing an Individual Equitable Access License

What does this mean for me?

Under copyright law, the author of an original work generally retains all rights in and to that work, including the rights to use, reuse, distribute, adapt, and profit from the work. That bundle of rights is referred to as copyright. Copyright owners may permit others to use their work for certain purposes through the grant of a license. For example, a copyright owner may grant a license to adapt a written work for film or to distribute a photograph for sale online. Licenses may be granular and nonexclusive, permitting copyright holders to license works multiple times or to multiple entities with different terms. 

The nonexclusive license granted under the Equitable Access Policy allows the University of Maryland to make the Author Approved-Version of faculty articles available in DRUM. However, faculty authors retain copyright in their original works in accordance with the University's Intellectual Property Policy (“UMD IP Policy”) and may otherwise license articles they own.

This new policy builds upon the UMD Intellectual Property policy. The new Policy grants a non-exclusive license to the University for purposes of equitable access, but faculty members will continue to own copyright in and to their own works in accordance with the existing IP Policy.

No. This policy grants an automatic license for UMD to publish your Author Accepted Manuscript (AAM or post-print) in its open repository, DRUM. Most journals do not require payment of a fee to share AAMs in this way. Paying an APC is generally associated with making the published version of the article open access.

You can use the Sherpa Romeo database to check a particular journal's default rules on sharing articles via repositories. If the default rules do not permit you to share your paper, you can modify your publishing contract before signing or you can submit an automatic Policy waiver form. We have provided a template addendum

If you have questions about the Equitable Access Policy or the template author’s addendum, please contact the Libraries' Open Scholarship Team.

Who and what does the license apply to?

No. The policy does not apply to any articles that were completed before the policy was enacted, nor to any articles for which faculty members have entered into an incompatible publishing agreement before the policy was adopted. Non-faculty authors are not  subject to this policy but may sign the voluntary Individual Equitable Access License, which also does not apply to articles written before the license is signed.

No. Once you are no longer affiliated with the University of Maryland, College Park, any articles you write are not subject to this policy and are not licensed to UMD. Likewise, the voluntary Individual Equitable Access License only applies as long as the author is affiliated with UMD.

Yes. If you are a co-author of an article, you should inform your co-authors about UMD’s Equitable Access License granted pursuant to this policy (or the voluntary Individual Equitable Access License). As with other articles, you may elect to submit a waiver form for a co-authored article.

Each joint author of an article holds copyright in the article and, individually, has the authority to grant UMD an Equitable Access License. However, a waiver submission from one author is sufficient to waive the nonexclusive license to UMD.

Please contact the Libraries’ Open Scholarship Team ( with any questions you may have about submitting a waiver form for a co-authored paper.

The Equitable Access Policy only covers peer-reviewed scholarly articles. In the language of the Budapest Open Access Initiative, these are the primary works that scholars publish "for the sake of inquiry and knowledge" and "give to the world without expectation of payment." Scholarly articles are typically presented in peer-reviewed scholarly journals and conference proceedings.

While DRUM, the UMD’s repository, welcomes scholarly works other than articles, the Equitable Access Policy applies only to articles. Among the works outside the category of scholarly articles are books, popular articles, commissioned articles, fiction and poetry, encyclopedia entries, ephemeral writings, lecture notes, and lecture videos.

The voluntary Individual Equitable Access License is also limited to scholarly articles.

Under the Equitable Access Policy, authors will deposit the Author Accepted Manuscript (AAM), which includes any changes made after peer-review and has been accepted for publication by the journal. It does not include unilateral edits made by the journal after peer review, or changes that relate to the journal's look and feel. Documents that have been typeset or copyedited by the publisher (such as proofs or the final published version) are not AAMs, but if you wrote your article in a publisher-supplied template then that is acceptable. In a few cases we will deposit the published version, also called the Version of Record (VOR). For example, we will deposit this version when UMD or the author has paid an Article Processing Charge for that article, or when the publisher gives permission to deposit that version. If you have questions about which version to deposit in a given case, please contact the Libraries’ Open Scholarship Team

Current graduate students, fellows, non-faculty researchers, and faculty members not covered by this policy may create a similar license for themselves through the voluntary Individual Equitable Access License.

They may also use the template author addendum as a basis for negotiating with publishers and they can reach out to the Open Scholarship Services team ( with questions. 

Waivers, Embargoes, and Exceptions

You have a number of options. You may:

  • Obtain a waiver of the license and let the publisher know that you have done so; or
  • Obtain an embargo to delay deposit of the work in DRUM and let the publisher know you have done so; or
  • Negotiate with the publisher for acceptance of UMD’s nonexclusive license; or finally,
  • Try to seek a different publisher. The Libraries’ Open Scholarship Team can provide you with resources and assistance as you work with publishers to pick an option that works best for you.

Many institutions using this type of access policy report that they have not heard of a single case in which a journal has refused to publish an article merely because of the prior University license, because the waiver and embargo options offer flexibility and protection to both authors and publishers.

The UMD Policy does not require preprints. The Policy anticipates  deposit of the Author Accepted Manuscript (AAM), the final, peer-reviewed version before the publishers adds typesetting, layout, and pagination. Other institutions employing similar policies (e.g., Harvard, MIT, Penn State) have not reported problems with this model. 

Of course, the automatic waiver option is always available in these types of cases and does not rely on any evaluative process or approval process. Faculty members simply complete an online form and the waiver will be automatically granted.

Yes, it is possible to embargo or restrict access to documents in DRUM for a finite period of time. Faculty members must contact the Libraries to set the end date, and restrictions  will be removed automatically at the end of the embargo period. Reach out to to request an embargo.

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