I have no problem with the concept of teaching kids about copyright laws. After all, kids are the future. We’re doing it for the kids. Feed the children. Save the world. etc. etc. etc.
But, copyright is a complex subject that even most adults don’t fully understand. When I say “most adults” I’m referring specifically to the RIAA, the MPAA, and other entertainment industry executives who routinely misrepresent the specifics of copyright law in an effort to intentionally confuse the public.
My concern is that programs designed to teach kids about copyright laws amount to little more than entertainment industry propaganda. Fair Use and the Right of First sale are routinely left out of copyright discussions, as are the concept and importance of the public domain.
If you’re going to teach kids about copyright, you should, well, teach them about copyright. That includes teaching them about the parts of copyright law that might be at odds with your business model. Otherwise you’re just teaching kids about your business model.
To date the MPAA seems to have been the most proactive in their effort to “educate” kids about copyright.
- The Boy Scout of Hong Kong can now earn a merit badge for copyright proficiency by completing an MPAA designed course.
- Closer to home, the MPAA has reportedly been brainwashing educating american school children with “role playing” exercises designed to show kids how copyright holders feel when their rights are violated. (most cry)
Now the Canadian Copyright Licensing Agency has launched a new program to educate the children of Canada about copyright. Leave it to the Canadians to beat Hollywood at their own game by creating a new superhero – Captain Copyright!
Captain Copyright briefly acknowledges Fair Use and Public Domain on his website, but the course material provided to teachers makes almost no mention of these concepts, instead focusing almost exclusively on piracy and other types of copyright violations.
The Captain provides teachers with some interesting exercises, like this one for Grades 1 to 3 called, “Imagine A World Without Copyright”. Students are encouraged to brainstorm their favorite creative works and then to imagine what it would be like if there were no copyrights to protect those works. I would guess that the lower end of this age group might end up identifying many of those early Disney works that were based on public domain stories and folk tales. Oh, but that part isn’t in the lesson plan.
Captain Copyright could apparently use a lesson or two of his own about complying with alternate copyright schemes. As Boing Boing points out, Captain Copyright is apparently a Wikipedia pirate.
The Captain has a few other quirks as well. From his website’s IP Notice:
iv. You are not permitted to copy or cut from any page or its HTML source code to the Windows™ clipboard (or equivalent on other platforms) onto any other website.
I copied that last paragraph to my Mac OSX ™ clipboard (which is an equivalent to the Windows ™ clipboard). I consider this to be fair use. Come and get me Captain.
Also, there’s this gem:
in order to protect the moral rights associated with this site, permission to link is explicitly withheld from any website the contents of which may, in the opinion of the Access Copyright, be damaging or cause harm to the reputation of Access Copyright.
These are the questions kids are bound to ask. Captain Copyright better have a good answer.