2.3 Gratis and Libre Open Access

Apart from gold and green, there is another distinction of OA that is Gratis and Libre OA. One removes price barriers alone and the other removes price barriers and also tries to remove permission barriers. The former is gratis OA and the latter libre OA. These are better explained by the concept of fair use (Suber, 2012). According to (Suber, 2012), “ fair use has four characteristics that are pertinent to the present discussion. First, the permission for fair use is granted by law and need not be sought from the copyright holder. The statute assures us that no permission is needed because fair use “is not an infringement of copyright.” Second, the permission is limited and does not cover all the uses that scholars might want to make. That is to say to exceed fair use, users must obtain permission from the copyright holder. Third, most countries have some equivalent of fair use, though they differ significantly in what they allow and disallow. Finally, fair use is vague”. Re-focussing on gratis and libre OA, gratis OA is free of charge but that is about it. Users must still seek permission to exceed fair use that is if they want to use for other purpose transform the resource in any way, translate it or any such requirements. Gratis OA removes price barriers but not permission barriers. Libre OA is free of charge and also free of some copyright and licensing restrictions. Users have permission to exceed fair use, at least in certain ways. Because there are many ways to exceed fair use, there are many  degrees or kinds of libre OA. Libre OA removes price barriers and at least some permission barriers”. It is important to note that the gratis/libre distinction is not the same as the green/gold distinction. The gratis/libre distinction is about user rights or freedoms, while the green/ gold distinction is about modus of publication or vehicles. Gratis/libre answers the question, how open is it? Green/gold answers the question, how is it delivered? (Suber, 2012).Green OA can be gratis or libre but is usually gratis. Gold OA can be gratis or libre, but is also usually gratis. Looking back at green versus gold, we realize that it is possible for gold OA to be libre than green OA. The reason is that gold OA already negotiates and implements OA rights over a resource at the time of its publication itself. This is the reason why OA activists insist to go beyond gratis OA to libre OA and the focus hence is more on OA journals than OA repositories. OA journals have definite statements regarding the published content often giving readymade citation to the articles that users may use for attribution. But in the case of repositories if a user discovers a green article, they often may not be aware that it withholds certain rights over the resource. It is in this parlance that licenses such as Creative Commons9 can be implemented to ensure that a resource is put to its right use.

Last modified: Tuesday, 13 April 2021, 11:08 AM