The United States’ largest copyright lobbies, the Motion Picture Association of America and the Recording Industry Association of America, have initiated a highly controversial program nudging the educational system to shoulder the burden of teaching kids about how evil piracy really is.
The LA Times reports that a nonprofit group known as the Center for Copyright Information has commissioned a program to teach kids between kindergarten and sixth grade about intellectual property ownership.
The program is to be called “Be a Creator,” and the proposed curriculum includes lesson plans, videos, and activities that promote “being creative and protecting creativity” with topics like: Respect the Person: Give Credit; It’s Great to Create; and Copyright Matters.
The president of a nonprofit organization (iKeepSafe) that focuses on helping keep kids safe on the internet, Marsali Hancock, defended the program by saying “It’s important to prepare children to succeed and thrive and learn how to share and create and move files in a way that’s ethical and responsible.”
Even though nothing of the plan has even been written yet, the idea of implementing it has come under intense scrutiny. Frank Wells, a spokesman for the California Teachers Association, said “While it’s certainly a worthy topic of discussion with students, I’m sure some teachers would have a concern that adding anything of any real length to an already packed school day would take away from the basic curriculum that they’re trying to get through now.”
In one curriculum draft acquired by Wired a couple months ago, a property attorney described the information being disseminated as “thinly disguised propaganda” because the program omits any mention of the concept of Fair Usage, such as satire, parody, or commentary.
Corynne McSherry, the intellectual property director for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, said “It sends the message that you always have to get permission before you can copy anything and that sharing is always theft and that if you violate copyright law all kinds of bad things will happen to you. It’s a scare tactic.”
Stephen Smith, a managing partner with Greenberg Glusker and an expert on copyright law, said “The idea that time would be taken out of kids’ days to teach them copyright law, when they ought to be learning reading, writing and arithmetic, I find to be strange… I just don’t think it’s appropriate curriculum for kindergartners to sixth-graders.”
Meanwhile, in spite of the MPAA’s constant whinging about immense profit losses caused by online piracy, recently conducted economics studies suggested that their “losses” are sensationally inflated and that the music and film industries are fiscally performing better than ever.
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