My weekly Law Bytes column (Toronto Star version, homepage version) examines the linking issues associated with Captain Copyright. While the linking policy has gone through several edits, the column argues that it is doubtful that any version is actually enforceable. First, it is by no means certain that the terms and conditions associated with the site constitute a binding contract.
Even if it could be enforced, the specific linking provisions are unlikely to withstand legal scrutiny. Several courts in both Canada and the United States have addressed the legal issues associated with linking, with most concluding that links do not raise any copyright concerns. In the case of Captain Copyright, it is irrelevant whether the citation comes from a critical blogger or a supportive school board – permission is not needed to link on the Internet and it cannot be denied in legal terms and conditions.
When Access Copyright chose to freely display its content on the World Wide Web, it surrendered the right to restrict who might link to the site or comment on it. That would be true of any organization, but the principle should resonate particularly strongly with Access Copyright, given that it is a copyright collective whose members rely upon freedom of speech for their livelihoods. If Captain Copyright teaches us anything, it is that he should be powerful enough to withstand a little criticism.