CLA Condemns Captain Copyright

Captain Copyright has become one of the more controversial moves made by Access Copyright. Adding to the debate, the Canadian Library Association passed a resolution to condemn the website and concept as a result of negative responses from the public.

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

The CLA describes itself as “…Canada’s largest national library association, representing the interests of 57,000 library workers. It also speaks for the interests of the 21 million Canadians who are members of libraries.”

On the Captain Copyright website, there are comics for children to read which have been perceived as extensively one sided. Additional lessons in the teachers section contained one particularly controversial lesson of sending pro-copyright letters to newspaper editors. The lessons were for students in grades 1-8.

Another aspect that caused concern was the anti-linking policy in the website. The website had claimed that one could only link to their website only with permission. Other things outside of these points were flaws in the arguments and the lack of information on things like “fair dealings”, Canada’s version of “Fair Use.” Some even claim that Captain Copyright is in violation of other people’s copyrighted content which extends from other superheroes all the way down to the Goetse.

Concerned with the potential impact Captain Copyright may have on young minds, the CLA (Canadian Library Association) has decided to act against the cartoon character. The fourth resolution in a public document (PDF) states:

“Resolution 2006 – 4: Access Copyright’s “Captain Copyright”

“Whereas Access Copyright has created the Captain Copyright advocacy site ( without consulting CLA and which many Canadian researchers, academics and librarians have condemned as a biased approach to copyright advocacy;

“Whereas the terms of use of the Captain Copyright website shamefully purports to restrict linking to the site, stating “permission to link is explicitly withheld from any website the contents of which may, in the opinion of access Copyright, be damaging of cause harm to the reputation of Access Copyright;

“Whereas this website poses a threat to our shared information commons by providing biased copyright information to the Canadian public, particularly children and schoolteachers;

“Therefore Be It Resolved that the President of CLA write an open letter to Access Copyright, to be drafted by the Copyright Working Group, to condemn the Captain Copyright initiative;”

The CLA also stated that they were interested in the Copyright Working Group to have some level of control over the character.

“Be It Further Resolved that the Copyright Working Group be mandated to monitor and critique the views expressed by Access Copyright, in order to provide reliable copyright information to Canadian libraries and the broader public;”

In short, the CLA is against some of the key points expressed by Captain Copyright’s website. They deemed it to contain biased information that was pointed out by others and was created without the CLA’s approval.

It is possible that this may be a sign of things to come. The CLA became vocal about DRM (Digital Rights Management) that was mentioned in a previous Copyright reform bill just last week amidst a large number of open letters sent to the Minister of Heritage. When it seemed that few people had an official differing opinion on the issue of copyright just a couple of months ago, now there seems to be a gradual movement amongst different organizations to express differing opinions. This move appears to signify that action is starting to be taken by organizations as well.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Google+.

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