I came across the following article by David Rapp titled jSTOR Announces Free Access to 500k Public Domain Journal Articles in the Library Journal today and felt excited. However, if a work is in the public domain, it usually means that it is not covered by intellectual property rights for a number of reasons including the owner having forfeited the rights or the rights having expired. In that context the concept of ‘free’ seems to be cancelled out. The works being made available by jSTOR fall into the category ‘Early journal content’ and include works published before 1923 in the US and 1870 worldwide. Clearly, they fall in the category of copyright having expired.
You may recall the article ‘Free Culture’ Advocate may pay a high price about Aaron Swartz, mentioned in my blogpost Who owns culture, the question who owns culture can be asked of jSTOR in consideration of their announcement of ‘free access’. In that light, I may stick with DOAJ ~ Directory of Open Access Journals.
The following clip provides more related detail.