NIH Definition of Open Access Publication
Definition of Open Access Publication* from the Bethesda Statement on Open Access Publishing:
An Open Access Publication1 is one that meets the following two conditions:
1. The author(s) and copyright holder(s) grant(s) 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**, as well as the right to make small numbers of printed copies for their personal use.
2. A complete version of the work and all supplemental materials, including a copy of the permission as stated above, in a suitable standard electronic format is deposited immediately upon initial publication in at least one online repository that is supported by an academic institution, scholarly society, government agency, or other well-established organization that seeks to enable open access, unrestricted distribution, interoperability, and long-term archiving (for the biomedical sciences, PubMed Central (PMC) is such a repository).*) Open access is a property of individual works, not necessarily journals or publishers.
**) Community standards, rather than copyright law, will continue to provide the mechanism for enforcement of proper attribution and responsible use of the published work, as they do now.
Note that this definition of open access goes beyond the simple free access that applies to all full-text content viewable directly in PubMed Central (PMC) from the National Institutes of Health (NIH). A number of PMC journals make all or most of their contents available as open access publications. See the Open Access list for details.
Depositing Individual Open Access Articles in PMC
In October 2003, PMC began accepting individual open access articles from journals that do not participate in PMC on a routine basis. Any such journal must still meet the basic qualification of being covered by a major abstracting and indexing service or having three members on its editorial board who currently are principal investigators on research grants from major funding agencies. For the specific conditions under which PMC accepts these articles, see the relevant PMC agreement (in Microsoft Word format).
Related Statements on Open Access Publishing
The Bethesda Statement on Open Access Publishing.
A position statement by the Wellcome Trust in support of open access publishing.
The Berlin Declaration on Open Access to Knowledge in the Sciences and Humanities."
Source: About Open Access: Open Access Publishing. PubMedCentral. National Institutes of Health (last updated 7 January 2005, last viewed 1 March 2005) [FullText]