One of the discussion points regarding Access Copyright's Captain Copyright, has been the attempt to restrict who can link to the site. Interestingly, Access Copyright has now altered the specific linking terms. The earlier version, which is still used for the main Access Copyright site, provided that: Permission is expressly granted to any person who wishes to place a link in his or her own web site to www.accesscopyright.ca or any of its pages with the following exception: permission to link is explicitly withheld from any web site 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 www.accesscopyright.ca on your website, please let us know and create any link to our home page only.
The site now features the following provision (emphasis is Access Copyright's):
Permission is expressly granted to any person who wishes to place a link in his or her own website to www.accesscopyright.ca or any of its pages with the following exception: in order to protect the moral rights associated with this site, 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. Specifically, permission to link is explicitly withheld from sites featuring pornographic, racist or homophobic content. If you link to or otherwise include www.captaincopyright.ca on your website, please let us know.
The bold calls attention to the two changes. First, Access Copyright is trying to argue that linking might somehow negatively impact the moral rights of the site. This strikes me as nonsense – a link does not alter the underlying content in any way and criticism of the site surely does not constitute an infringement of moral rights. Second, the provision now targets sites featuring pornographic, racist, or homophobic content, likely a reference to some sites that have contrasted a visual involving Captain Copyright.
Rather than playing with a dubious linking provision, Access Copyright would be far better off rethinking the entire Captain Copyright site. The overwhelming negative reaction suggests that visitors rightly view this content as nothing more than propaganda with no educational merit. As Access Copyright deals with a range of other issues – including internal fraud – surely this is one initiative that should be withdrawn with an appropriate apology as quickly as possible.