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November 16, 2004
Kids Smell Bull***t
Remember when the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) proudly debuted its copyright "education" campaign for school-age children? There was a handy classroom booklet entitled "What's the Diff?" in an evident attempt at kidspeak. And the kiddies already had a wascally weasel mascot, which, if you took the booklet's "lessons" at face value, the Business Software Alliance (BSA) blatantly stole from Walt Disney Comics.
Now, Downhill Battle has published the inevitable rejoinder, sans tangible condescension. Kids who can use Google (know any?) will able to check it out and absorb its lessons -- including how best to poke fun at transparent corporate propaganda.
This isn't a true copyright counter-curriculum, of course, but it makes a valuable point: kids aren't stupid. There are subtleties in copyright law, and feeding children a cartoonish "dumbed down" version will only decrease -- not increase -- the "respect for copyright" that the MPAA and BSA want so dearly to cultivate.
Bonus link: fellow Copyfight author Aaron Swartz details his encounter with the copyright police at Stanford (scroll down to "What the F***k Is Fair Use?"):
[Stanford Senior University Counsel Lauren Schoenthaler ] gripes a little about a 2005 state law making filesharing a crime, which she thinks is unnecessary. But her real purpose is to "get the word out on the DMCA." She claims the DMCA says you can't fileshare and, furthermore, permits copyright holders to track the Internet for people sharing. (Neither of these are true. When contacted by email, Ms. Schoenthaler defended the statement by saying that while it is "less than precise" but communicates the "big picture." This seems an odd position for a lawyer.)
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