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The Copyright Pentalogy Book: An Open Access Success Story

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.


  1. pat donovan says:

    free works!
    and prospers, appartently.
    Good to hear, as the other side of the story is 4 hot copies for every legal one, thou I do hear from graphics people that they sell one in ten.

    nice to know survival isn’t completely at the mercy of the market.


  2. Not surprised
    Good stuff, and I’m really not surprised, as I’ve seen the same sort of results time and time again in my line of work. (working with artists to release their works [music] for free on a file sharing site)