Copyright laws provide rights owners limited and exclusive rights to their works as well as exemptions for others to use their works. Basic informational resources are available from Penn State's Copyright site as well as the Harrell Health Science Library's Copyright site. Additionally, as in most institutions, policies are in place that govern the ownership of intellectual property; while the policies are not law, documents signed at the time of employment or enrollment would make them legally binding. Penn State Intellectual Property Policies are available for reference.
Publication Agreements and Contracts
Authors must carefully review all documents when submitted their works for publication, to ensure that both access and re-use rights are properly articulated. This is important whether publishing articles in journals or entire books, and on Open Access platforms as well as via "traditional" venues. This UC Berkeley Library resource provides guidance to those who may be new to this endeavor. The University of Oregon Libraries also has a guide available for reference. For book authors, here is an overview of some issues that should be considered. Note that the publisher policies and local laws vary.
Public Access Mandate
For government funded (e.g. NIH) research, the requirement to comply with public access policies is mandated by law. Though there has not been evidence of "legal consequences", future and continuing funding are at risk. See our resource guide for additional information.