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A1.1

FAIR Guiding Sub-Principle A1.1: 

the protocol is open, free, and universally implementable

Interpretation of A1.1

The protocol (mechanism) by which a digital resource is accessed (e.g. queried) should not pose any bottleneck. It describes an access process, hence does not directly pertain to restrictions that apply to using the resource. The protocols underlying the World-Wide Web, such as HTTP, are an archetype for an open, free, and universally implementable protocol. Such protocols reduce the cost of gaining access to digital resources, because they are well defined and open and allow any individual to create their own standards-compliant implementation. That the access to the protocols specifications is free ensures that those lacking monetary means can equitably access the specifications and can implement them without occurring in any monetary obligations. That it is universally implementable ensures that the technology is available to all (and not restricted, for instance, by country or a sub-community), thus encompassing both the 'gratis' and 'libre' meaning of 'free'.

This interpretation of A1.1 is based on 'FAIR Principles: Interpretations and Implementation Considerations'. Jacobsen et al, Data Intelligence 2020; 2 (1-2): 10–29. doi: https://doi.org/10.1162/dint_r_00024

Image by Jack Hamilton