Microsoft has released the new website MyBytes.com to promote copyright education. The site was announced as the company released the results of a survey testing children’s knowledge of copyright law.
I agree that there needs to be a greater emphasis in schools on copyright law and understandings of intellectual property. However, in addressing these topics, educators and educational materials MUST include copyleft approaches to addressing “ownership” of intellectual property and materials addressing open content/open source approaches. At an appropriate grade level, I would encourage deconstruction of terms such as “intellectual property” and “ownership” and discuss both practical and philosophical implications of copyleft vs. copyright (and everything in between). The terms need to be questioned and critiqued, and their history and current emphasis in our laws need to be critically explored.
And if you are going to use Microsoft’s materials, use them critically. For instance, watch these “interviews” and ask questions such as:
– Are these interviews scripted?
– Are these interviews censored?
– Whose views are being represented here?
– Where are the dissenting voices (seeing as M$ has identified that dissent/misunderstandings are the majority)?
– Are alternative views of copyright/copyleft represented in these interviews?
– Who is the sponsor of this site, and (how) would they benefit from a strict view of copyright?
– What is at stake with illegal music downloading? Who stands to lose/benefit?
– Are there alternative models for distributing content? Who is using them? Are they successful?
– Who benefits from these alternative models? Who loses?
– What is the Creative Commons? What is its role?
– What are the issues of power and control inherent in these arguments?
Any others thoughts?
Educators, please, whatever your views on copyright/copyleft. Be critical, and present both established and alternative views on these issues.