Open Access (OA) refers to intellectual content that is freely available online. The word, “free,” in this context, expresses both its meanings at once, gratis and libre. Open Access content is both free of cost and free of most licensing restrictions.
This does not mean that Open Access literature is not copyrighted. Copyright is affixed automatically to a creator’s work upon publication and means that all rights — the rights to distribute and reproduce, to adapt, to perform, to broadcast, to display online and to sell or license these rights to others — reside exclusively with the author.
However, creators can choose to supplement copyright with a Creative Commons license that allows others to legally copy, distribute, remix, revise and build upon their work. There are several licenses to choose from, and they allow for a wide spectrum of access.