We wrote about Music-Rules! and similar industry propaganda efforts in May, outlining some of their falsehoods and biases. For instance, the RIAA tells kids, "Never copy someone else's creative work without permission from the copyright holder" — omitting the important right to make creative fair use of existing content. It also coins a misleading term, "songlifting," (which the curriculum says is "just as bad as shoplifting"). Perhaps most disturbing of all given that the curriculum is supposed to be adopted by schools, it teaches kids bad math as part of its lessons on peer to peer file-sharing.
The updated curriculum goes a step further and asks kids to contact their local media and act as the RIAA's own unpaid public relations staff:
Imagine that you are in the music industry... With your team of fellow music industry employees, plan an information campaign that lets others know why it’s important to get their music the right way... You'll want to convince your classmates that your teams' plan is the one that will become the class project!
Challenge: Take your campaign a step further by contacting the editor of your community newspaper or the director of your community cable television station to see if you can submit an article or video about your campaign.
In other words, after spending countless dollars on failed advertising campaigns against peer-to-peer file-sharing, the RIAA has created a classroom activity to outsource the campaign to schoolchildren. Next up: A classroom activity where kids police peer-to-peer networks in search of potential infringers!
Fortunately, teachers looking to educate their students about copyright have an alternative: Teaching Copyright, EFF's unbiased, informative and fact-centered copyright curriculum. Rather than bombarding kids with the message that using new technology is illegal, Teaching Copyright helps kids to understand their digital rights, giving them the information they need to responsibly create, critique and participate in the Internet's participatory mash-up culture.
Please tell teachers you know about Teaching Copyright. And please consider donating to EFF today to help us continue to produce and promote Teaching Copyright and material like it.