Secondary Publishing Rights in Europe: Status, Challenges & Opportunities




Secondary publishing rights (SPR) articles have been introduced in seven European countries, while others are exploring their introduction. These are considered as an example of the broad efforts to recalibrate the entire scholarly communication system, together with rights retention policies, and their importance has been greeted by the Council of Europe in its recent conclusions. This KR21 study, conducted by LIBER, investigated the implementation of SPR, with the aim to understand their impact, and to comprehend what obstacles need to be overcome in the countries that do not have this sort of legislation.


The motion is towards a new generation of SPR that will be both legally and practically elaborated, taking into account the lessons learned from the early implementation of SPRs. For the sake of coherence in rules looking at cross border projects, EU-wide regulation is expected to be most effective. Therefore, we propose the adoption of harmonised legislation that creates a safe and clear legal environment for researchers, has no or a very limited embargo period and benefits a vast array of researchers, applies to all types of scholarly publications from all disciplines and includes an enforcement and monitoring mechanism. One cannot ignore that the SPR are powerful tools at the hands of the policy makers to truly open up access to scientific information and promote inclusive, collaborative and impactful research in Europe.

Our conclusions
  • There is great heterogeneity among the seven countries. SPR provisions vary when it comes to their stated goals and legal contexts, but also have different components that affect their implementation.
  • These provisions have been introduced in ways that have not always taken into account the voice of relevant stakeholders. It also appears that the importance ascribed to such policies by governments seems relatively low, despite the contribution that they can make to achieving Open Access goals.
  • Expert guidance and support are vital to respond to challenges during the drafting and negotiation of the law. Skills must be developed and capitalised on at the implementation stage to make SPR effective.
  • The disharmony of various legislative acts and jurisdictions confuses and affects the implementation of SPR. Resources and policy instruments are vital to monitor compliance with the law and provide informed feedback.
  • While the adoption of SPR in individual countries is welcomed, the widest possible adoption at a harmonised EU level is the most plausible solution to address national and international differences.

In general, SPRs are an example of broader efforts to recalibrate the entire scholarly communication system including Rights Retention policies. Their success requires expertise in both copyright and Open Access.




Dr. Giannis Tsakonas is Director of the Library & Information Center, University of Patras, Greece and Vice President of LIBER (Ligue des Bibliothèques Européennes de Recherche – Association of European Research Libraries). In the past (2016-2022) he has been elected to the Board of Directors of Hellenic Academic Libraries Link and he served as Vice President of the Hellenic General Council of Libraries, Ministry of Education, Research and Religious Affairs (2016-2019).

Kyriaki Zoutsou is a librarian with over 15 years of experience in managing information resources in repositories and researching open access policies. She holds a BSc and MSc in Information Science from the Department of Archives, Library Science and Museology, Ionian University, Greece and she is currently PhD researcher at the Department of History and Philosophy of Science, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Greece working on research policy characteristics and the adoption of open access principles of the research projects in the cultural heritage field.

Marina Perivolari has been a librarian at the FORTH / ICE-HT Library for more than 20 years. She holds an BSc in Archives & Library Sciences from the Ionian University, Greece and an MSc degree in Cultural Heritage Management and New Technologies from University of Patras, Greece. She supports Chemical Engineering researchers on Open Science issues and she has served in the editorial team of two international scientific journals in this field.