More on Captain Copyright

Personally, I'm quite impressed that someone has taken the time to help teach children about copyright concepts. Since these concepts embody some of the rules that assist us in our exchange of creative ideas, they should be explained to children in a clear, balanced manner.

There are a number of errors of omission in the lessons on the site. The teacher's notes to Activity 4 do not explain Private Copying. Perhaps a less controversial example (rather than music downloading) could have been used?

I'm also concerned if the discussion of things like Activities like 3 & 4 are valuable when teaching Grades 1-3. I'm not certain that children of this age can grasp the "world economic impact of copyright" (I'm still struggling with this question!). Perhaps discussion of artists and the role of art in our society might be a better form of introduction?

I really enjoyed the comic strips -- entertainment can help convey this important information. It would be nice, though, if the strips explored other avenues of reward. Both stories contain monetizing of copyright. In the first, the bully takes an artist's work to sell for profit. Logically, I understand the lesson to indicate that it is wrong to profit from work that is not your own. In the second strip, the students purchase an illegitimately copied textbook. They discover that the textbook is an incomplete copy and decide to purchase a legitimate copy of the book. Again, the crux of the story explores exchange of money for a license.

This theme is continued in many of the teacher's line notes. Often they explain that permission to copy can be gained, "maybe by paying a fee". I would really like to see more discussion of other licensing options (Creative Commons as an example).

As I said, its really interesting to see organizations like Access Copyright producing educational material. When the e-mail address on the Captain Copyright website begins to accept incoming mail, I hope to continue the dialogue.

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When you are a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

While Don prefers that we not look at this site with an eye as to who the author was, I think that it explains many things. Access Copyright is an organization whose purpose is to collect royalty fees for the use of creativity. Sometimes they charge per-copy, and sometimes per-user, but it is always collecting royalties.

Collecting royalties is just one business model option among many that are available to creators, and increasingly with the methods of production, distribution and funding enabled by advanced communications tools such as the Internet a less than ideal choice.

For Access Copyright, being a hammer, everything looks like a nail. You may charge various amounts of royalties for a use, and sometimes even "give your work away" (charge a $0 royalty to some "special user" or "special use"), but it is unlikely that within that organization they will be able to realistically explore alternative methods of production, distribution and funding that do not involve per-copy, per-use, or per-person royalty fees. Nearly all the models I use and advocate are going to be invisible to them, which involve allowing the marginal price to be equated with the marginal cost of $0 for creativity and focusing on paying the one-time up-front costs.

I sent a letter to Christopher Moore's personal email address to let him know about the contact address not accepting email. He is one of the "creator" board members.

I believe it is relevant to know that Access Copyright is a joint organization between authors and traditional publishers, which further explains why they would not be as interested to explore models which "skip the intermediaries" given the organization is largely controlled by intermediaries. As their largest source of revenue is educational publishing, their greatest economic threat isn't infringement but Open Access and peer production techniques that are increasingly being adopted by the educational community.

I hope that other organizations, including some that represent the interests of authors and their audiences, will take the lead from Access Copyright and the Business Software Alliance who are trying to "educate" (in their case, Indoctrinate to a narrow way of thinking before they become critical thinkers) people about copyright. While I disagree that this is a topic that can be handled before high-school age, I believe that it is a topic that is quite important to give a fair balanced approach for teenagers.

On the more balanced side is the Tales from the Public Domain: BOUND BY LAW? comic from Duke Law which needs a Canadian version.

Free/Libre and Open Source Software (FLOSS) consultant.

"For want of a nail"

RE: "While Don prefers that we not look at this site with an eye as to who the author was, I think that it explains many things.".

It's not that I'd like to ignore the author entirely, but that I'd prefer to give the author of the site the benefit of the doubt. The position and identity of the author are important once dialogue has been established. Perhaps this is one of those cases where there are members of an organization willing to change, trapped in an organization incapable of change?

It is important to take an unassuming glance at the material in order to open dialogue. It may be, though, that dialogue is never opened by Access Copyright or that via dialogue we discover that their position is as you describe and there are no inmates trying to escape. In both instances, we're left where we started: no meaningful ongoing dialogue for change is established with Access Copyright. If they happen to open up meaningful dialogue for change, we've gained something positive. We should optimize for that instance (since it requires no additional effort on our part) rather than the others.

Knowing the political position of the site's authors is important in order to understand how to properly approach them. I don't believe that it should restrict us from talking to them or determine the tactic we take when working with them. Otherwise, we risk losing a potentially important conversation due a minor oversight on our part.

Agree, but..

I strongly agree with what you are suggesting when opening channels with fellow creators, but not so much this specific group, or with organizations who sees the modernization of creative communities as a threat to their legacy methods of production, distribution and funding.

The individual people who form Access Copyright are members of specific member-groups. Some of these groups are of intermediaries, and some are creator groups. I believe it is important to try to open dialogue with these members in their capacity as members of the creator groups, which is why I am always excited to be discussing things with members of the Canadian Association of University Teachers (Remember this one when you hear complaints from the education community about Access Copyright), Professional Writers Association of Canada or the Writers Union, or non-AC members such as the Creators' Rights Alliance or Creators Copyright Coalition which are larger creator-focused coalitions.

I think you have seen some of the BLOG article referencing PWAC, or the autumn event hosted by CRA that will feature Brazilian performer, Gilberto Gil, who is also Brazil’s Minister of Culture, co-author of the "Sampling OK" Creative Commons license, and Open Source advocate.

I believe it is appropriate to be critical of the whole without being critical of the parts. There are companies that are members of the Business Software Alliance whose businesses are largely dependant on non-"Software Manufacturing" methodologies such as FLOSS, and yet it remains important to be critical of this lobby group which as a whole seeks to eradicate competing methods of production, distribution and funding.

Free/Libre and Open Source Software (FLOSS) consultant.

Captain Commons!

Just a note to all, some of us here at the University of Western Ontario's Master of Library and Information Science program are trying to put together a rival comic to explore alternative intellectual protection schemes. We have some good ideas but are still looking for that crucial illustrator (I can't draw). For the first issue we hope to pit Captain Commons up against the evil Captain Copyright! If anyone would like to help please drop me a line at my blog.