Ohio Law

News and Announcements from the Supreme Court of Ohio and Other Governmental Entities Within the Buckeye State.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

What About Fair Use?

This has nothing to do with Ohio law, but begs for commentary nonetheless. The Washington Post reports on a program in which a consultant goes into schools and teaches them of the ills associated with illegal downloading. The article's title: 'Pirates of the Internet' Is New Class Lesson. You may have to be registered with the Post to read the article, so here are the "highlights":
  • "These kids are in la la land," according to the consultant who uses a 5-foot tall robot named "Safety Bot" to teach elementary school students the evils of downloading copyrighted materials.
  • "You may think you're anonymous, but you're not. You may think it's legal, but it's not. And you may think you're not hurting anyone, but you are." - Rich Taylor, a spokesman for the Motion Picture Association of America
  • Taylor again: "What we're trying to do is get it back to 'Stealing is wrong.' " This program was given at a school named St. Bernadette's. From what I remember of my Catholic grade school days, they already have a handle on the concept of 'stealing is wrong' without some recording industry flack, part of an industry with a history of payoffs, back-stabbing, and shabby treatment of artists, going on about it.
  • Both the MPAA and RIAA have been working with schools and private educators to figure out how to communicate online ethics in a way young people can understand. This is too much. We're now letting our children get ethics lectures from Hollywood.
  • Helping the industries get their agenda to the schools is Street Law, a high school legal textbook company based in Silver Spring, MD. They and others are working to develop a training program with the U.S. attorney's office. The program would pair teachers with lawyers to teach the real-life implications of taking copyrighted materials online. Deborah Foster, Street Law's senior program director, stated that the brainwashing was going to be "a long and complicated effort." Of course, as a seller of textbooks to schools, that would be her goal.
  • Again from Foster: "Kids are very savvy, especially around intellectual property," she said. "They may not be able to define 'intellectual property' and explain what that means. But deep down, they do know downloading music and movies is wrong. For some reason, they just choose to do it anyway."
  • If you're going to teach kids about intellectual property in the 4th grade, at least offer a user's perspective. My second-grader barely knows his math facts because of the dumbed-down, test-driven curriculum that serves as a "math program," but he will sure know that making a copy of a song, even one he may be legally entitled to make, will end up with him being pursued by the Thought Police of the RIAA and MPAA.
I apologize for this major digression, but this WP article was a bit much. Doesn't the school where this program took place have a K-12 Librarian that could offer a counterpoint with some info on fair use, government publications, etc.?



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