Project Retain. Enabling the dissemination of knowledge.

Europe has seen a significant growth in activity to establish and advance open access (OA) policies over the last decade. However, copyright has been the thorn in the side of many authors, funders, and their institutions who wish to publish OA, since many publisher policies and processes are no longer fit for purpose. 

Today, we require the rights to publish, share, adapt, and reuse material for research, educational, or multilingual needs. 

Governments, funders, and institutions are responding to counteract publisher restrictions as regards rights retention and open licensing. Authors often face confusion when seeking the right to publish OA. The legal complexity and lack of harmonisation in Europe have slowed the take-up of institutional rights retention policies. 

The Stichting IFLA Foundation Programme in partnership with IFLA, LIBER, and SPARC Europe are implementing a three-year Arcadia Foundation-funded programme to reform copyright laws and regulations that enable libraries to significantly improve access to and use of copyrighted works.
The Knowledge Rights 21 Programme aims to promote change at European, national, and local levels providing valuable examples for the rest of the world. It is driving reform in six key areas, including improving rights retention and open licensing.

Project Retain, led by SPARC Europe, intends to accelerate the uptake of rights retention and open licensing to enable researchers to share their work openly. It will do this by calling for publisher, institutional, and funder policy change and by empowering authors to refuse to cede their intellectual property. We will carry out research to provide a solid and informed basis for this change, and then campaign and support a transformation in copyright policy that embraces OA amongst publishers, funders and institutions.

Retain Report InfographicIn June 2023, we published our report Opening Knowledge: Retaining Rights and Licensing in Europe 2023.
The report showcases progress with institutional rights retention policies in Europe and discusses a variety of policies and options in various contexts. The report recognizes a diversity of stakeholders who play an important role in enabling access to research publications and to their re-use and the value of dialogue in overcoming fears, misunderstandings, and disagreements.

After an Executive Summary, we share a set of recommendations. Here is an infographic that captures the essence, but we encourage you to read the full report

SPARC Europe continued with a Twitter campaign #RetainYourRights in October 2023 speaking mainly to OA advocates, copyright supporters, copyright institutional policymakers and authors.

For a step-by-step guide on how to retain your rights, see our rights retention checklists for institution policymakers, national policymakers and researchers!

Find more resources, including our glossary on rights retention and Open licensing, examples of policy and further reading in our Rights Retention Helper.

For more information, please contact