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The Equitable Access License

In accordance with the policy, Equitable Access to Scholarly Articles Authored by University Faculty, all faculty members at University of Maryland grant certain nonexclusive rights over 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 the articles free-of-charge to the general public, through DRUM, the University of Maryland’s online institutional repository. Faculty members commit to depositing (self-archiving) peer-reviewed versions of their scholarly articles into DRUM.

Authors are not required to submit new scholarly articles to any particular type of journal, such as open-access journals. Instead, the policy intentionally ensures that authors retain the freedom to submit new work to the journals of their choice. The policy also includes waiver and embargo options to enhance 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?

For every piece of intellectual property, there are one or more individuals who have rights over the use and ability to profit from that work. That bundle of rights is what we refer to as copyright. It is possible to allow others to reuse, distribute, or adapt a work without transferring ownership of the copyright through the grant of a license. For instance, licenses provide authors and other copyright owners the ability to grant others right to reuse a work (for instance, adapting a written work for film) or to distribution (such as printing and selling a work in a particular geographic market). 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 distribute the author approved-version of your article, but does not preclude you from assigning copyright for the final article to a publisher, retaining copyright on your own work, or otherwise licensing your writing. 

This new policy builds upon the UMD Intellectual Property policy, because it relies on faculty authors continuing to retain the copyright for their own works. One minor change will have to be incorporated into the IP policy, to add the Equitable Access License into the section on “Traditional Scholarly Works.” Again, though, this policy enacts a non-exclusive license, not a transfer of rights, which means that faculty members still retain the copyright for their works.

No. This policy is based on sharing your Author Accepted Manuscript (AAM or post-print) in an open repository such as UMD’s DRUM. Most journals do not require payment of a fee to share your accepted manuscript. 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 contract before signing it by using an author’s addendum or you can get a waiver

If you have questions about the open access policy or the 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 you entered into an incompatible publishing agreement before the policy was adopted. If you are a non-faculty author, you are not subject to this policy. However, if you sign the voluntary Individual Equitable Access License, then it too does not apply to articles written before you signed the license.

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 the nonexclusive license that you have granted UMD under this policy (or the voluntary Individual Equitable Access License), and if your co-authors cannot be convinced this is beneficial, then you can obtain a waiver for the article.

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

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

The Equitable Access Policy only covers peer-reviewed scholarly articles. We focus on scholarly articles because, 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, this policy only covers 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.

The policy asks authors to 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're not certain about whether we could deposit the VOR 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 are encouraged to utilize the author addendum as a basis for negotiating with their publisher and can reach out to the Open Scholarship Services team ( for additional help. 

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
  • Work to persuade the publisher that it should accept UMD’s nonexclusive license in order to be able to publish your article; or finally,
  • Try to seek a different publisher. The Libraries’ Open Scholarship Team would be happy to help in the process of working with publishers or picking an option that works best for you.

Many institutions using this type of policy have not heard of a single case in which a journal has refused to publish an article merely because of the prior license to UMD. This is because the waiver and embargo options offer complete protection to publishers who wish to take advantage of them.

The UMD policy does not require preprints. It asks for deposit of the Author Accepted Manuscript (AAM), the final, peer-reviewed version before the publishers adds typesetting, layout, and pagination. This issue has not been a problem at Harvard, MIT, Penn State, and other institutions employing a similar model.

Of course, the waiver option is always available in these types of cases and does not rely on any evaluative process or approval process. Faculty members would be asked to complete a simple online form and the waiver would be automatically granted.

Yes, it is possible to embargo or restrict access to documents in DRUM for a finite period of time but faculty members must contact the Libraries to set the end date. Restrictions are automatically removed at the end of the embargo period. Reach out to to request an embargo.

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