Captain Copyright

Access Copyright has launched a new site that borders on parody, but is apparently serious.  Captain Copyright, is a new "superhero" that educates children about the virtues of copyright, rushing to the scene in the event that someone publishes research without proper credit.  While my first reaction to the site was that it is just silly, as I dug deeper, I now find it shameful.  These materials, targeting kids as young as six years old, misrepresents many issues and proposes classroom activities that are offensive.

In addition to the Captain Copyright series, there are a series of "games" and educational activities targeting kids and teachers beginning in Grade One. These so-called activities are of particular interest to me since one of my kids is currently in Grade Two and another starts Grade One in September.  It is pointless to go through each exercise to point to the misconceptions and half-truths that it seeks to bring into my child's classroom, but a few merit comment.
private copying copyright education Activity Four, which provides a situational exercise, is designed to teach kids about the limits of copyright law.  The kids are to be asked about a music download and the printing of a class exercise in a textbook.  Teachers are advised in the Line Master that "a person can download a song off the Internet where they pay for it or get permission" and "a person cannot copy a song that they have legally downloaded for someone else."  There is no mention of private copying which may cover the first example.  In the second example, it is true that you cannot private copy for someone else, but that person can make their own private copy.  The lesson continues by stating that "permission is needed to reproduce all of the work that you have written."  There is no reference to user rights, which are particularly relevant in the education context.

Incredibly, it gets worse. Activity Two seeks to build respect for the copyright symbol by asking the grade one students to role play by seeking copyright permission and to sell their copyright work.  Activity Three asks the students to picture a world without copyright and to discuss whether their favourite book or song would still be created.  Activity Six celebrates creativity by having the class create a group book with an additional page for the copyright notice.  Activity Seven envisions grade one students creating their own copyright permission form.

When the students move on to Grades Three to Six, they write a letter to the editor supporting copyright.  Students in Grades Six to Eight, learn about copyright exceptions.  The exercise only references public domain materials and public performances with no mention of fair dealing; instead, the exercise focuses on photocopy licenses.

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.  Instead, they stoop to a level I have not previously seen in Canadian copyright.  They are an embarrassment that should not find their way into any classroom in the country.


  1. senatorhung says:

    hear hear !
    you know, if access copyright actually *embraced* the fair dealing provisions of the copyright act and promoted those, i think many of us would have much less of a problem when they come around later, hat in hand. no rights without responsibilities !

  2. Brainwashers!
    I myself, am 13 yrs old and have seen a lot of copyrighted material that I would like to get my hand on but if i was obeying Captain Coptright, I would have to stay away from it for fear the superhero would catch me!

  3. Mark Thomson says:

    Check out the “Intellectual Property No

    Under “What you can do with the Materials: Authorization and Limited Licence” it says:

    iv. “ou are not permitted to copy or cut from any page or its HTML source code to the Windows™ clipboard (or equivalent on other platforms) onto any other website.”

    Well I guess I just broke that silly rule now didn’t I? Oops! Here is my favourite one though:

    Under “Links from Other Websites”

    “Permission is expressly granted to any person who wishes to place a link in his or her own website to or any of its pages with the following exception: permission to link is explicitly withheld from any website the contents of which may, in the opinion of the Access Copyright, be damaging or cause harm to the reputation of, Access Copyright. In the event we contact you and request the link be removed, you agree to comply with that request promptly. If you link to or otherwise include on your website, please let us know and create any link to our home page only.”

    Ummm, good luck enforcing that one guys!

  4. Captain Infringer says:

    I’ve mirrored the entire site on my server only I’ve changed it around to imply that P2P is legal in Canada and that it’s OK to build Captain Copyright “fan” sites using materials from…

  5. Where are the educators?
    “Education content” should be vetted by education professionals, but there is no law that prevents any individual or group from creating a web site that presents a biased view towards any topic.

    The content of this site is hopeless drivel because it is incomplete and does not tell the whole story. Most professional teachers will see this and make the right judgment about using it in their classroom.

    Most grade ones and twos don’t have free access to the web so i suspect that they won’t accidentally find this material, so the only risk is from misinformed teachers and parents who might send their kids to this site. The fact is that most parents don’t include copyright education in their parenting curriculum with their kids so the only concern comes from teachers. Unless the site gets referrals from accredited educators, even teachers will not go there.

    This represents the dark side of the web where a lot of effort is placed into creating a formal site that communicates a biased point of view. But then, there are schools in the US that still teach creationism.

    As your 13 year old reader points out, once the kids are old enough to think, they see right through this drivel. At the end of the day, the creators of this site have wasted their money.

  6. Captain Copyright INVADER of PRIVACY!!
    This site is wicked. Beyond amazing that the Access association and it’s consortium behind the development of this website put such an effort behind conveying what is clearly a one-sided perspective on copyright.

    As a parent and advocate for children & youth I find it unbehlievable that this organization in particular, would ask children to select and also EMAIL an ending to a comic strip – what is otherwise a common in-classroom exercise – but to to do so online and WITHOUT any privacy disclaimer… no ask your Mom & Dad if it’s o.k. check box, or even a statement of what the organization intends to DO WITH MY CHILD’s information, and MY isp information!

    The parents at Access Copyright should know that in Canada ‘we protect our kids’ and for certain we need to do everything we can protect their privacy!

    All of the mis-information and mis-truths on the website aside – especially as regards music and the site’s failings on ‘fair use’ are fundamental flaws that hopefully astute teachers will become hip to immediately. That the exact same lesson plans are provided for a child of 8 and a child of 13 is a ‘beaconing’ clue that something is amuck from an education pt-of-view.

    But the privacy issue is most irksome. The Privacy Commissioner of Canada should be alerted to this. No one’s privacy should be given up to a comic strip… no matter what the cause. This is our CHILDREN here. When trade and industry organizations think they have a free hand to bank data on our kids like this, it is simply wicked.

    Lastly, what Canadian schools REALLY need is something – ANY thing – that simply introduces the concept of “copyright” in non-biased, fair and simple Canadian terms, to Canada’s kids. There is nothing in curriculum, full stop. Ironically there is NO definition provided by CaptainCopyright EITHER… kids are asked to go look it up! Obviously the special interest groups like this one can NOT be allowed to craft curriculum. The particular issue is a national (indeed global) one and therefore ultimately it is the Federal deparments of Heritage & Industry that should get their act together on this and distribute the “proper words” of definition and some topical classroom discussion guidelines to educators – and parents – from coast to coast to coast.

  7. hometoast says:

    he’s not answering his mail
    mail sent to ‘’
    got this reponse: Delivery to the following recipient failed permanently:
    Technical details of permanent failure:
    PERM_FAILURE: SMTP Error (state 9): 550 5.7.1 Unable to relay for

    Guess I can’t send him this message:
    You’ve got no business there. If I ever see this planned for my child’s day, they will promptly be removed from school and have a day off.

    I might change my mind if you promoted the fair use portions of copyright law in addition to how it protects people’s IP. It is _not_ a one-sided issue. Its only a blurb on

  8. A.R.Yngve says:
    It’s not going to work.

    Every kid knows that the only REALLY cool captain is a PIRATE captain… arrr, matey!

  9. Parody?!??
    Borders on parody? That will never do! We don’t have a parody exemption in Canada… where is their respect for other people’s works of the mind? Horror!

  10. Mina Estevez says:

    I wrote them an email
    I’m a university professor and I often introduce intellectual property rights topics into my literature and cultural studies courses.

    I wrote the folks at “Captain Copyright” the following email:

    I’m teaching my university students to critique repressive copyright encroachments and your campaign to target children with copyright propaganda will make a great addition to my classroom materials!


    Professor Mina Estevez

  11. Christo de Klerk says:

    not the first comic I’ve seen on (c)
    Yeah, in many ways this reminds me of Richmond Law’s What do you think? “documentary” on IP and music.

    But, this wasn’t the first comic that I’ve seen done on copyright compliance. Bound by Law was one put out by the Center for the Study of the Public Domain at Duke Law. I thought it rather good, but now I’m interested in what your take on it would be.

  12. what a disaster
    another interesting bit from the IP disclaimer is “The Captain Copyright website should not be interpreted as a recommendation for a specific course of action nor does it proidve legal advice. If you have a specific problem or issue about a copyright matter you are strongly advised to consult an appropriately qualified professional.” So, um, then whats it for?

    also, having recently graduated from college and currently being in law school, I have the usual complaints against textbook publishers for constant new editions that prevent me from selling my books back. In the science of copyright, Capt (C) teaches that anything but buying new books is bad. I guess I fail to see how it benefits kids to teach them ways to waste their money in supporting companies geared towards ripping them off.

  13. What a (non) disaster
    For the prson who thiks that buying books with perpetual new editions is a waste of money: Last I checked, the purpose of buying a book in the first place is not to sell it back. It’s to get information. And, yes, information breeds revisions. So what if you can’t sell it back — you got what you paid for in the first palce: information not residual value. Or do I miss your point?

  14. Been to University lately?
    Age, your comment is fair enough taken by itself. However, it overlooks an important thing. That is that the majority of the new ‘Editions’ have, at most, a page or two of new information. A couple years ago I took a Poli-Sci course where the prof told us that any of the last three editions were fine because the only changes where in the font. That, and one page more or less in the introduction to throw the page numbering off. I kid you not.
    This as far as these types of books go it is a scam.

  15. Alexandre Racine says:

    Good for Canada not for French Canada
    I will make a bold statement here since we are in the parody realm : It would seems that Québec and all French Canadian can’t be touch with all thoses rules and laws since the website is only in English.

  16. Captain Copyright = Copyright Infringeme
    I was notified by someone from Slyck that Captain Copyright is actually copyright infringement of a number of things including Goeste of all things. More on that here:

  17. Roy Abou Assaly says:

    That’s all it is. This has nothing to do with education. Just another ploy to try and target a young generation to buy into a dying business model.

    Kids are smart. They’re going to dismiss this excuse of a website that’s full of gibberish. I can’t believe how low these people will stoop in order to protect their money.

  18. Teachers Should Discuss This In Their Cl
    I think this is a greate idea. Captian Copyright should be taught in all (older) classrooms. This website provides a great starting point for a grade 7/8 debate or discussion. The website could be used as an introduction to Propaganda.

    The whole class could discuss the various points raised in the propaganda and what points were NOT raised. This is of course the nature of propaganda.

    After the discussion/debate everyone will have learned an important lesson in copyright and law in general: copyright needs to be balanced like any law, and must consider all parties — the producers of copyrighted material, the consumers, and the academic community.

  19. David J. French says:

    Ottawa attorney
    David French writes:

    For clarification for your readers, the policy of the present Copyright Act (and not the Bills filed by the previous government before parliament) is reflected in the following sections:

    Copying for Private Use

    Where no infringement of copyright

    80. (1) Subject to subsection (2), the act of reproducing all or any substantial part of

    (a) a musical work embodied in a sound recording,

    (b) a performer’s performance of a musical work embodied in a sound recording, or

    (c) a sound recording in which a musical work, or a performer’s performance of a musical work, is embodied

    onto an audio recording medium for the private use of the person who makes the copy does not constitute an infringement of the copyright in the musical work, the performer’s performance or the sound recording.


    (2) Subsection (1) does not apply if the act described in that subsection is done for the purpose of doing any of the following in relation to any of the things referred to in paragraphs (1)(a) to (c):

    (a) selling or renting out, or by way of trade exposing or offering for sale or rental;

    (b) distributing, whether or not for the purpose of trade;

    (c) communicating to the public by telecommunication; or

    (d) performing, or causing to be performed, in public.

    David J. French

  20. Heather Morrison says:

    Thank you, Michael!

    Let us unite to Defeat the Evil Captain Copyright! Details at:

  21. Kat Hanna says:

    Here’s an answer to Captain Copyright from the Digital Copyright Canada list.

  22. Private Infringer
    and General Intelligence were very good! Thanks for the link Kat.

  23. Lanny Boutin says:

    Excuse me! I just took a look at the site. All it has on it is basic copyright lessons for teachers to use. The information in the lessons which I looked at are correct, so I don’t understand what the problem is?

    Are we apposed to children being taught right and wrong. Is it alright for them to break the law just because they are in an educational system at the time?

    I can appreciate a picture on a museum wall without taking it or a flower in someone’s garden without pulling it up. So why can’t they learn to appreciate someone’s artistic work without illegally copying it? There is no different.

    And Activity Three regarding a “world without copyright” is extremely relevant! Lets us be honest here, if copyright didn’t exist, publishers wouldn’t put their money into books and writers wouldn’t be able to afford to write them. I know because without the copyright which protects my books and articles from being copied I would not receive the royalties that feed my children; children, who by the way are in that educational system, and like all other authors I would be forced to find a new career.

    Also your ending comment “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,” is totally bizarre. What does that have to do with anything? These lessens were not designed to teach children a love of learning, they were instead designed to teach children, and hopefully teachers and professors, the law and end this generations idea of entitlement to other peoples stuff.

  24. Are you people all serious?
    The site is screaming a message loud and clear. It is NOT a message advocating copyright laws; it is not pro-copyright propaganda; it is certainly not a site for teachers to get info to teach their kiddies. The point of the site is simple – it gets you thinking about copyright laws. It makes you wonder if they aren’t too “big brother”-ish. It makes you realize how silly it is to try to teach children not to “share” and that it is better to “horde your property”. It also has a big exclamation point in the legalease of the site that shows that even the pro-copyright people cant keep their fingers out of others intellectual property – that pure copyright is completely impossible because we are human.

  25. Awesome!
    The real problem with the past three posts is that their authors are not very smart. EVERYTHING ON THE INTERNET IS A COPY, YOU DUMB FUCKS! DO you even know what the public domain is? Do you have any idea of why it needs to be protected? Maybe, just maybe, you should fucking read something before sshooting your mouth off.

  26. reply
    Kit i agree with you 100 percent. There’s no such thing as original on the internet, everything is just a lousy copy of an imitation. People should think their words before posting.
    So many angles so many views