A report from Auditor-General Sheila Fraser is all over the web, and the Auditor-General is not happy.
The Globe and Mail published a story from reporter Bill Curry on Tuesday afternoon detailing the A-G's finding that Canada's immigration system was rife with confusion and abuse. The Globe referred readers to the full document through a hyperlink, which took them to A-G's website, but also embedded the immigration chapter using Scribd, a social publishing website where readers can download and share millions of documents.
This morning, The Globe received a call from the A-G's legal counsel, demanding that the embedded Scribd document be taken down. If people want to read the report, said Beth Stewart, they should go to the Auditor-General's website, and if The Globe wants to provide a link, it should be that link.
"On the Scribd website, it appears, or it makes it appear, that anyone using the document or accessing the document has an ability to adapt the content and use it in different ways," Ms. Stewart said in an interview. "And that causes us some concerns, as I'm sure you can appreciate."
It initially appeared that the Auditor-General was demanding that anyone who wanted to link readers to a report had to apply in writing for permission on a case-by-case basis. But in a subsequent interview, Ms. Stewart said that this was not a requirement.
The Globe prefers to use Scribd because it makes documents accessible with fewer clicks and less hassle. Also - and this is entirely a case of self-interest - you don't have to leave The Globe's website to read the document. We like to keep you with us for as long as possible.
The incident reveals yet again the tensions between the rights of information holders and the demands of information gatherers in the electronic marketplace. In this instance, The Globe has complied with the government agency's request.
Update The A-G's office responded to The Globe's decision to pull the embedded chapter this afternoon via email. You can read that message, via Scribd, below.
Update 2 The Globe and Mail has decided to reinstate the embedded chapter from the Auditor-General's report.
Update 3 Scribd has removed the chapter at the request of the Auditor-General's office. The Globe is now hosting it on its own server here.