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    The Copyright Pentalogy Book: An Open Access Success Story

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    Friday October 25, 2013
    Readers of this blog will know that earlier this year the University of Ottawa Press published The Copyright Pentalogy: How the Supreme Court of Canada Shook the Foundations of Canadian Copyright Law, an effort by many of Canada's leading copyright scholars to begin the process of examining the long-term implications of the copyright pentalogy. The book is available for purchase and is also available as a free download under a Creative Commons licence. The book can be downloaded in its entirety or each of the 14 chapters can be downloaded individually. This is the first of a new collection from the UOP on law, technology and society (I am pleased to serve as the collection editor and editor of the pentalogy book) that will be part of the UOP's open access collection.

    This week I participated in a panel on open access at the University of Ottawa as part of the global Open Access Week activities and learned that the book has succeeded on both the open access and commercial front. From an open access perspective, the book and articles have proven to be popular downloads. The University of Ottawa Press reports that the webpage for the book is among the most accessed on the site. In less than six months, the book ranks among the top 35 books for page views (some books have appeared on the site for years). Downloads of the book are also popular at the University of Ottawa's uO Research, the University's institutional repository as it is one of the three most accessed items in the entire repository.

    While interest in a free book may strike some as unsurprising, it is worth noting that the University of Ottawa Press reports that book has also been the top seller on its website. Visitors are free to download any or all chapters at no cost, yet the book has outsold all other University of Ottawa Press titles on the website since its launch in May. In fact, some have even purchased electronic versions of the book (an ePub version is available), despite the free availability of a PDF version. It is still early days for the book - the launch conference only took place several weeks ago - but the initial results provide yet another illustration of the potential co-existence of open access and commercial sales.
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    Canada May Be Nearing the Open Access "Tipping Point"

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    Thursday October 24, 2013
    The power of the Internet to shake up well-established industries has become a common theme in recent years as many businesses struggle to compete with new entrants and technologies. While it has captured limited attention outside of educational circles, the Internet has facilitated the emergence of open access publishing of research, transforming the multi-billion dollar academic publishing industry and making millions of articles freely accessible to a global audience.

    My weekly technology law column (Toronto Star version, homepage version) notes that "Open Access Week", which is used by supporters to raise awareness of the benefits of open publishing, is being marked at university campuses around the world this week just as a Canadian study confirmed a global open access tipping point and Canada’s major research funding agencies prepare to mandate open access publishing for grant recipients across the country.


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    Canada May Be Nearing the Open Access "Tipping Point"

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    Thursday October 24, 2013
    Appeared in the Toronto Star on October 19, 2013 as Canada Nearing 'Tipping Point' Where 50 Per Cent of Research is Freely Available

    The power of the Internet to shake up well-established industries has become a common theme in recent years as many businesses struggle to compete with new entrants and technologies. While it has captured limited attention outside of educational circles, the Internet has facilitated the emergence of open access publishing of research, transforming the multi-billion dollar academic publishing industry and making millions of articles freely accessible to a global audience.

    "Open Access Week", which is used by supporters to raise awareness of the benefits of open publishing, is being marked at university campuses around the world this week just as a Canadian study confirmed a global open access tipping point and Canada’s major research funding agencies prepare to mandate open access publishing for grant recipients across the country.

    According to a European Commission-funded report by Montreal-based Science-Metrix, more than half of all research publications in some countries and fields of study are now freely available online. The company found that countries such as the United States, Switzerland, Israel, and the Netherlands have all passed the 50 per cent mark for open access publication. Canada is on the verge of joining those countries, falling just shy at 49 per cent.

    The shift toward open access becoming the default form of disseminating research in many fields is a remarkable change given that conventional publishing in expensive subscription-based journals was the standard in many areas as recently as ten years ago. The move toward open access means that global research is far more accessible to everyone - scientists, researchers, and the general public.

    Canadian open access may also soon hit its tipping point if the three federal research granting institutions - the Canadian Institutes of Health Research, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada - follow through with a proposed open access mandate.

    The three institutions, which collectively dole out hundreds of millions of dollars in research support annually, launched a consultation last week on a standardized open access policy.  The policy would require grant recipients to ensure that their peer-reviewed publications are freely available online within 12 months of initial publication.

    The policy sends a strong message to all researchers that the public should not be asked to pay for access to the research that it funds. Rather, researchers seeking taxpayer support can reasonably be required to make their research openly available to the public.

    In fact, the adoption of a standardized open access policy may open the door to several other initiatives. In addition to the changes for research publications, the agencies may also pursue new open data requirements that would mandate the availability of the raw information generated by research activities. Moreover, while the current policy is limited to research articles, books and other larger publications that benefit from taxpayer support may also face pressure to adopt more open models of access.

    The implications of open access policies extend far beyond shaking up the academic journal market. Openly available articles are already being incorporated into teaching materials, thereby replacing conventional textbooks and removing the need for copyright permissions and fees.  Open access may also help foster greater collaboration between researchers and the business community with improved access leading to commercialization opportunities that might otherwise be missed.

    As the Canadian academic community celebrates open access week, it appears that the long-awaited tipping point may be about to head north.

    Michael Geist holds the Canada Research Chair in Internet and E-commerce Law at the University of Ottawa, Faculty of Law. He can reached at mgeist@uottawa.ca or online at www.michaelgeist.ca.


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    The Copyright Pentalogy: How the Supreme Court of Canada Shook the Foundations of Canadian Copyright

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    Thursday May 02, 2013
    Copyright cases typically only reach the Supreme Court of Canada once every few years, ensuring that each case is carefully parsed and analyzed. As readers of this blog know, on July 12, 2012, the Supreme Court issued rulings on five copyright cases in a single day, an unprecedented tally that shook the very foundations of copyright law in Canada.  In fact, with the decisions coming just weeks after the Canadian government passed long-awaited copyright reform legislation, Canadian copyright law experienced a seismic shift that will take years to sort out.

    I am delighted to report that this week the University of Ottawa Press published The Copyright Pentalogy: How the Supreme Court of Canada Shook the Foundations of Canadian Copyright Law, an effort by many of Canada's leading copyright scholars to begin the process of examining the long-term implications of the copyright pentalogy. The book is available for purchase and is also available as a free download under a Creative Commons licence. The book can be downloaded in its entirety or each of the 14 chapters can be downloaded individually. This is the first of a new collection from the UOP on law, technology and society (I am pleased to serve as the collection editor) that will be part of the UOP's open access collection.

    This book features fourteen articles on copyright written by independent scholars from coast to coast. The diversity of contributors provides a rich view the copyright pentalogy, with analysis of the standard of review of copyright decisions, fair dealing, technological neutrality, the scope of copyright law, and the implications of the decisions for copyright collective management.


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