Thanks to an Open Access policy, articles that are published become freely and instantly available to any person connecting to the World Wide Web. Because articles are intended to remain available at no cost forever, they can be read, downloaded and printed in perpetuity. Copies of the published manuscripts are also archived and searchable in PubMed Central , the US National Library of Medicine's full-text repository of life science literature, and also in repositories at the University of Potsdam  in Germany, at INIST  in France and in e-Depot , the National Library of the Netherlands' digital archive of all electronic publications.
Since the authors hold coyright for their published work, they can make their articles freely available on their institution's website. The copyright policy also stipulates that the authors grant anyone the permission to reproduce and disseminate the article, provided that no errors are introduced and that it is adequately cited.
As a comparison, several journals now offer free access to their articles on line, but it is generally, either for a limited period of time or only after 6 to 12 month following publication.
Thus, Open Access offers several benefits to authors and readers in the scientific community and the general public. First the authors are assured that their work is widely disseminated and that it is likely to be cited more often than when it is published in a journal whose access is limited to subscribers. At a time when politicians in many different countries are urging the scientific community to better communicate with the general public, this aspect is of prime importance.
Another major consequence is that there is no financial barrier to the dissemination of knowledge. The impact of a country's economy on access to knowledge is considerable and is often under evaluated or ignored by those who live in wealthy environments. As long as a researcher has Internet access, he or she can read Open Access articles (although enabling them to get Internet access is, admittedly, a big issue).