Captain Copyright and the Search for Taxpayer Funding

Captain Copyright, the much-criticized Access Copyright initiative, generated some discussion this week with the release of a public letter from the Canadian Library Association.  The CLA letter, which is consistent with its resolutions on Captain Copyright adopted in June, calls on Access Copyright to "withdraw the site until the broader copyright community can assist Access Copyright in implementing an unbiased and balanced presentation of the rights of creators, rights-holders and users."

The letter was copied to Canadian Heritage Minister Bev Oda, which makes sense given that documents just obtained under the Access to Information Act reveal that Access Copyright has been looking to Canadian Heritage to provide funding for the Captain Copyright campaign.  On May 1, 2006, an internal memo was sent to the Director General of Cultural Industries indicates that Access Copyright was seeking funding for Captain Copyright and recommending that the matter be discussed by senior management.  No word yet on whether the government provided the requested cash. Access Copyright will have to get in line for "copyright education" funding, however.

The Canadian Copyright Institute is also seeking funding for its Fair Share program.  Described as a "dialogue on digital civics" and led by Jacqueline Hushion, the Executive Director of the Canadian Publishers Council (and one of the hosts of the infamous Sam Bulte fundraiser), the initiative will include classroom materials and other exercises.  Canadian Heritage has already provided thousands of dollars for the early stages of this initiative as it prioritizes copyright awareness.  It is still not clear whether the Fair Share program has received further funding.  Incredibly, in discussing the desire for funding, one government official noted that Husion was pressuring Canadian Heritage to announce support in principle for the Fair Share program, despite the fact that the group had not even formally submitted a funding application.

With hundreds of thousands of dollars provided to copyright lobby groups and tens of thousands of dollars spent on one-sided copyright awareness campaigns, it is becoming increasingly clear that Canadian Heritage copyright funding must be subject to greater transparency and oversight.  Taxpayer dollars should not be used for lobbying or one-sided marketing campaigns with decisions made hidden behind closed doors.  If the government wants to spent our money on public copyright initiatives, it must develop open, independent processes that are available to all stakeholders.


  1. Jared Gray says:

    I seriously hope the site (Captain Copyright) is withdrawn.. It is such a one-sided view it is SCARY! They want to teach this in schools?

  2. I think it is correct
    I had time to think this over, and I like to steal software online just as much as the next guy, but I don’t want the guilt because I’m doing a bad thing. I guess they should teach this is school after all.