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.
Of course they are scripted. I think these are good questions you are asking. Perhaps, we should create our own videos to counteract the Microsoft versions.
This isn’t copyright education, this is “intellectual property” indoctrination. Asking children what they think of “Intellectual Property” is to legitimize a biased term. Microsoft doesn’t care what the opinions are so long as they can get enough of the public to think in terms of “property”. Copyright, patent, and trademark law have nothing (substantially) in common with one another. The very question, “What are your peers saying about IPR?” encourages clouded judgment and shallow thinking about these issues.
What I find interesting about the whole thing is that they seem to try to get kids hung up on the idea of someone taking credit for their idea. I sincerely doubt that once a person has downloaded a piece of music they burn it onto a CD saying that they are in the world’s greatest Nickelback cover band. Basically what they are doing is trying to misdirect students away from some of the politics that have come up with in Canada. I guess thats the big issue here is that this in an American based resource for a predominately American audience.