Saturday, June 03, 2006

Captain Copyright Demystified

Here is an imperfect translation of Captain Copyright Demystified, by Olivier Charbonneau of ::CultureLibre.Ca::.

Captain Copyright Demystified

There, in the sky, is it a bird? Is it a plane? A rocket? No, it is Captain Copyright, the new Superhero of Access Copyright, the anglophone copyright collective , the latest addition to the family of Canadian superheroes.

This new initiative aims to promote copyright among Canadian students. The Captain Copyright website includes two chapters of comic book adventures of Captain Copyright, games, and classroom activities. The only problem is, the site presents a very biased view of the situation, and could be considered propaganda.

It is important to realize that Access Copyright is lobbying the Canadian Copyright Board for a supplementary tariff on Canada's educational institutions for the educational use of materials on the internet. Yes, you have read correctly, Access Copyright wants to impose an internet tax on students, to use materials which are freely available! This view was expressed at a Canadian Copyright Board hearing on Jan. 7, 2007.

According to the their 2005 Annual Report, Access Copyright spent 2.9 million dollars (Canadian), (nine times more than the previous year) on lobbying the Canadian government on this issue. In another post ::Culture Libre.Ca:: expresses the concern of the Canadian Ministers of Education about this position, which is to the detriment of education in Canada.

Professor Michael Geist reveals a number of the harmful aspects of the site in his expert blogpost, unfavorable to this approach. For example, one activity asks grade one students to create their own copyright form. Dr. Geist also explains that fair dealing and private copying are not covered, two important components of Canadian copyright law in favor of the users of content.

The knowledgable visitor leaves the site with a surrealist sensation, accompanied by the stench of misinformation and propaganda. What is the next step? Super-villains for Captain Copyright? Let's propose, as a start, Dr. Use and his sidekick Fair, a criminal duo devoted to study, private research and communicating news. Their only crime: informing and educating the Canadian public about reasonable uses of copyrighted work, without paying anyone.

Let's think also about Private Copy, a soldier with a photographic memory, who likes to transfer works from one format to another (from his CD to his iPod, for example). And let's not forget that very worst of all criminals, the extra-terrestrial-super-villian Public Domain, who dreams of all of the lucrative possibilities for creators of works, once his power is unleashed!

And above all, do not try to go too far with these characters, or else ::Culture Libre.Ca:: will have to pay a call on Captain Copyright! He will devastate you with his X-ray vision...or his authoritative injunctions...

This post reflects my personal opinion only and does not represent the opinions or policy of the BC Electronic Library Network or the Simon Fraser University Library.

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