A group backed by the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) and the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America), the film and music industry's copyright lobby groups, is going ahead with plans to introduce a pro-copyright curriculum for elementary school students.
The Center for Copyright Information (CCI), which also has the backing of major Internet service providers, plans to introduce a set of lesson plans, videos and activities starting for students in kindergarten on the importance of "protecting creativity". Topics in the curriculum include "Respect the Person: Give Credit," "It's Great to Create," and "Copyright Matters."
"It's important to prepare children to succeed and thrive and learn how to share and create and move files in a way that's ethical and responsible," said Marsali Hancock, president of iKeepSafe, a non-profit tasked with preparing the program.
Critics have already hit out at the proposed plans. Some say the curriculum promotes a heavily biased view of copyright, as seen through the eyes Hollywood and Big Music.
One lesson likens copyright theft to cheating on assignments.
Corynne McSherry, intellectual property director for the EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation), a nonprofit dedicated to protecting digital freedom, criticized the biased nature of the curriculum.
"It sends the message that you always have to get permission before you can copy anything and that sharing is always theft and that if you violate copyright law all kinds of bad things will happen to you," said McSherry, "It's a scare tactic."
Others have criticized the inclusion of a pro-copyright study when U.S. public schools are already struggling to find time to teach the basic curriculum.
Frank Wells, spokesman for the California Teachers Association, echoed these concerns.
"While it's certainly a worthy topic of discussion with students, I'm sure some teachers would have a concern that adding anything of any real length to an already packed school day would take away from the basic curriculum that they're trying to get through now," said Wells.