New symbol to denote true open access (e.g. to scholarly literature), analogous to the copyright symbol

Jan Velterop velterop at
Fri Mar 21 10:22:37 CDT 2014

But are the chances nil? It would be a nice complement to the series of ©, ®, ℗, etcetera and perform a similar function. A symbol for Creative Commons, presumably a double c in a circle, would probably indicate the document in question is covered by one of the CC licences, but it wouldn't be clear by which one, which may be an impediment for having a symbol. Similarly, copyleft is also a licensing scheme, and as such is not quite as unambiguous as ©, ®, and ℗ are. Also, neither a cc or a copyleft symbol is in the same 'single encircled letter' convention.

For the encircled 'a' symbol for open access it is proposed to use this definition: 

"The symbol for 'open access', if applied to documents and images, indicates their free availability, on the internet or otherwise, permitting any users to read, download, copy, distribute, (re)print, search, or link to the full texts of such documents, crawl them for indexing, pass them as data to software, or use them for any other lawful purpose, without financial, legal, or technical barriers other than those inseparable from gaining access to the internet itself or to printing materials and facilities. The only constraint on reproduction and distribution, and the only role for copyright in this domain, should be to give authors control over the integrity of their work and the right to be properly acknowledged and cited.

Jan Velterop

On 21 Mar 2014, at 14:33, Jörg Knappen <jknappen at> wrote:

> Even when this symbol really catches on (what I doubt because it is too close to the @ sign in the first place) chance are low that it will be encoded in UNicode. Precedents like the Creative Commons sign or the Copyleft sign have been discussed on this mailing list (search the archives for the relevant threads) but were never encoded in UNicode.
> When the symbol does not catch on, why should it be encoded in UNicode?
> --Jörg Knappen
> Gesendet: Freitag, 21. März 2014 um 12:14 Uhr
> Von: "Jan Velterop" <velterop at>
> An: unicode at
> Betreff: New symbol to denote true open access (e.g. to scholarly literature), analogous to the copyright symbol
> May I propose a new Unicode symbol to denote true open access, for instance applied to scholarly literature, in a similar way that © and ® denote copyright and registered trademarks respectively? The proposed symbol is an encircled lower case letter a, in particular in a font where the a has a 'tail', as in a font like Arial, for instance, and not as in a font like Century Gothic.
> A sketch of what I have in mind is here:
> The intended use would be for documents and images that have been published with so-called BOAI-compliant open access (, meaning that all reuse is permitted, with the only permissible condition that the author(s) should be acknowledged (CC_BY licence: This condition would not be mandatory, and also public domain, CC-0 licences would be denoted by the proposed symbol (
> I am seeking comments and support for this proposal.
> Jan Velterop
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> Unicode at

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