Big Content plans school brainwashing scheme

Big Content has somehow managed to convince US lawmakers that it should be allowed into schools and kindergartens to brainwash kids about piracy.

A new school curriculum being developed with the Motion Picture Association of America, the Recording Industry Association of America and the nation’s top ISPs which will tell kids that P2P is worse than cheating on homework.

The program is going to be tested on children in California elementary schools later this year.

According to Wiredthe programme will be at different levels, starting in kindergarten through to the sixth grade. The goal is, bluntly, to claim that copying is theft.

This attempt at corporate brainwashing on developing minds has not gone down too well with civil liberties groups.

Mitch Stoltz, an intellectual property lawyer with the Electronic Frontier Foundation said the material given to kids was thinly disguised corporate propaganda which was inaccurate and inappropriate.

He said that it falsely suggests that ideas are property and that building on others’ ideas always requires permission.

It implies that students should not be creating content but worrying about their impact on corporate profits.

The education material was prepared by the California School Library Association and the Internet Keep Safe Coalition in conjunction with the Centre For Copyright Infringement.

Each grade’s material includes a short video, and comes with a worksheet for teachers so they can get children to talk about filesharing as an evil curse.

In the sixth-grade version, teachers are told to ask children: “if a student copies a friend’s answers on a test or homework assignment, what happens?”

The answer is that the student is suspended from school or is failed. Teachers are instructed to tell their students that there are worse consequences if they commit a copyright violation.

However, the material does not talk about fair use and students are told that using works without permission is “stealing”.

Weakening his case somewhat, Stoltz pointed out that Justin Bieber got started singing other people’s songs, without permission, on YouTube.

“If he had been subjected to this curriculum, he would have been told that what he did was ‘bad, ‘stealing,’ and could have landed him in jail,” says Stoltz, accidentally presenting a good case for the programme.

The Internet Keep Safe Coalition president, Marsali Hancock, says fair use is not a part of the teaching material because sixth graders don’t have the ability to grasp it.

She said the group would later develop material for older kids that will discuss fair use.

Given that the whole thing is controversial, we would have thought it was better that kids were also instructed in the concept of sharing information and how it really works.