Belgian copyright law in favor of open access to scientific articles
A change in the Belgian copyright law allows the authors of scientific articles financed by the public sector, to retain the right to make their article available in Open Access even if otherwise stipulated in their contract with the publisher. This law offers researchers the ideal opportunity to maximize scholarly exchange, collaboration and innovation. Moreover, it empowers authors to bypass restrictions by publishers and makes it easier to comply with possible OA obligations by your funder. Full text: Le Moniteur Belge/Het Belgisch Staatsblad. 2018-09-05, p. 68691, Art. 29
Conditions to be met if you wish to apply this law
- Journal articles
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 published version of your article or other publication types, such as books, book chapters and conference proceedings, are not.
- 50% of public funds
The law applies to articles that are the result of research that has been financed for at least 50% with public funds (both domestic and foreign funds).
- Point of contact in Belgium
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.
Your rights as an author
- 6 or 12 months embargo
The authors have the right to make the accepted version available to the public (i.e. share it in OA) after an embargo of 6 (STEM) or 12 (HSS) months after the date of publication, provided that the source of the first edition is mentioned.
The new regulation prevails over any agreement signed with a publisher of a journal. The publisher cannot oppose this right, for example via a clause in the publishing contract. Such a clause is not enforceable.
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.