This opinion piece interrogates the position that open access policies infringe academic freedom. Through an analysis of the objections to open access policies (specifically Plan S) that draw on academic freedom as their primary concern, the article illustrates the shortcomings of foregrounding a negative conception of academic freedom that primarily seeks to protect the fortunate few in stable academic employment within wealthy countries. Although Plan S contains many regressive and undesirable elements, the article makes a case for supporting its proposal for zero-embargo repository-based open access as the basis for a more positive form of academic freedom for scholars around the globe. Ultimately, open access publishing only makes sense within a project that seeks to nurture this positive conception of academic freedom by transforming higher education towards something more socially just and inclusive of knowledge producers and consumers worldwide.
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