The object of the research is to show the extent of legal challenges that South African librarians
encounter with regard to support for public access to research-related information through open
access practices such as institutional (research) repositories.
This study employs an interdisciplinary approach combining library and information science with
Private Law. By making use of a social-legal approach the focus is on the legal
challenges institutional repository managers face in managing online, publicly accessible
platforms in a legally compliant manner.
The global flow of information through the concepts of “open science”, “open access”, “open
data”, and the role these play in the broader development of a knowledge society is explored.
Through a systemic approach the different role-players, legislation, regulations, regulatory bodies,
institutional policies and copyright agreements with (largely international) academic publishers
are taken into account. Legal challenges with regard to copyright restrictions, contracts with
publishers, leasing of material and the use of Creative Commons licensing are categorised and
explained in relation to the extent of repository services.
The study also takes into account the changes that might arise from the Copyright Amendment
Bill, showing that open science initiatives require a combination of approaches (not just legal
reform) if the current scholarly publishing system is to change.
A twofold practical component attempts to make the study a useful resource for information
specialists by: (i) undertaking a case study of legal and institutional regulations and of
repositories by exploring the different regulatory systems and the legal challenges faced in the
running of the UPSpace repository (University of Pretoria); (ii) establishing basic guidelines for
librarians and information workers on good legal practices for maintaining an institutional
repository in South Africa, by balancing legal requirements and the drive for public access to