Captain Copyright Under Fire (Again)

On June 27, Slyck reported on the resolution passed by the CLA (Canadian Library Association) which included sending an open letter to express their opposition to Captain Copyright.

Note: This is an article I wrote that was published elsewhere first. It has been republished here for archival purposes

Since then, the Captain Copyright issue appeared to settle. Recently, the CLA has breathed new life into the controversy surrounding this initiative started by Access Copyright.

When the news broke of Captain Copyright, advocates and regular internet users alike expressed their outrage for what they generally considered a one-sided view on Copyright.

“When the students move on to Grades Three to six, they write a letter to the editor supporting copyright.” Michael Geist explained, “Our children need to develop a love of learning, a passion for creativity, and an appreciation for the arts and sciences. These exercises provide none of that.”

BoingBoing described the initiative as a “kids’ propaganda campaign”.

Fast forward to a more recent time when this hot button issue appeared to have gone away. The CLA published an open letter (PDF) to the Canadian minister of heritage and the minister of industry.

“There are a number of issues surrounding the Captain Copyright web resource which concern the CLA membership” the open letter starts off, “In brief, they are the site’s lack of balance as it advocates for copyright awareness”

“On the one hand, creators and other rights-holders must be able to profit reasonably from their creations, to reward and encourage creativity. On the other, information is critical for a democratic society, as access to information chimes with freedom of choice and expression. Access not only encourages creators to create, but also it allows all of us to grow from their creations. […] The proper balance is absent from the Captain Copyright website. The site diminishes the user perspective inherent in the fair dealing, private copying and public domain provisions of the Copyright Act. One could even wonder if such an obtuse advocacy initiative aims to distort public perceptions in lieu of a lively and open debate about copyright policy reform.”

Interestingly enough, the CLA appears to agree with the BoingBoing heading. “The most disturbing aspect of the Captain Copyright advertising campaign is the targeting of children with propaganda-style tools. Advertising Standards Canada, a self-regulating trade association, reminds us that advertising to children is illegal in Quebec [Authors note: a province located on the Eastern half of Canada] and its Canadian Code of Advertising standards provides guidelines for the rest of Canada. It explicitly states that exploiting children’s credulity, lack of experience or sense of loyalty is forbidden. […] Captain Copyright is a unilateral initiative on the part of access Copyright and reflects its own perception, not the broader Canadian perspective.”

The letter closes with the following, “CLA insists that Access Copyright withdraw the site until the broader copyright community can assist Access Copyright in implementing an unbiased and balanced presentation of the rights of creators, rights-holders and users.”

It seems this letter provides another blow to the initiative, as it could potentially re-open the controversy.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Google+.

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