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RIAA's Elementary School Copyright Curriculum 507

selven writes "In a blatant campaign devoid of any subtlety, the RIAA is fighting for the hearts and minds of our children with its Music Rules, a collection of education materials on how to respect copyright. The curriculum includes vocabulary such as 'counterfeit recordings, DMCA notice, "Grokster" ruling, legal downloading, online piracy, peer-to-peer file sharing, pirate recordings, songlifting, and US copyright law.' There is no mention whatsoever of fair use. Compounding the bias, it includes insights such as that taking music without paying for it is 'songlifting,' and that making copies for personal use and then playing them while your friends come over is illegal. On the bright side, it includes math showing that the total damages from copyright infringement by children in the US amount to a measly $7.8 million."
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RIAA's Elementary School Copyright Curriculum

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  • by eldavojohn ( 898314 ) * <> on Friday September 18, 2009 @12:20PM (#29467627) Journal

    There is no mention whatsoever of fair use.

    Well, there actually is a mention of fair use in the parent guide [] but all it does is refer you to a better site []. The only other mention is -- hilariously enough -- in their own terms of use [] about using the materials on the site under fair use.

    But that's beside your point, let's play a game. Pretend you have the floor in front of primary school students and you want to explain fair use. What do you say?

    I'm not saying they shouldn't mention it. Because it's not well defined []. Fair use is, in my opinion, an abomination in that it's a "law" that's not defined in anyway. And what's even better is when I try to cite the safe harbor laws [] or portion limits [] on Slashdot, I'm ridiculed [] over [] and over [] (not that I've ever practiced law but as a citizen it's the most I can find) despite my analysis being correct []! So with my masters degree in computer science, I am clearly unable to pin down what precisely constitutes fair use and what does not. I imagine that were I charged with uploading and editing [] fair use samples of every song off of David Bowie's Hunky Dory album (which I did) that my innocence would depend entirely on how much money I have for a lawyer ... not the law. Because "fair use" is ambiguous and the so called "doctrine []" is downright laughable. If you don't agree with me, go ahead and post a response arguing for or against my above Wikipedia edits being "fair use." I'll gladly play the devil's advocate if someone doesn't beat me to it.

    So given the above information, would you please outline how you would explain this to children? Or how you plan to "win their hearts and souls" with the fair use doctrine?

    What I want for Christmas: someone in my government to man up and bring any amount of clarity to copyright law, fair use and (while we're at it) patents. Something shouldn't be unclear until you've already been sued for doing it. That's how you find yourself in situations like the RIAA suing thousands of people and watching court case after court case resolve to millions in damages awarded from an average citizen to a huge conglomerate of lawyers and labels.

    • by selven ( 1556643 ) on Friday September 18, 2009 @12:27PM (#29467725)
      "You have the right to use small parts of something covered by copyright (like quoting a book for an essay) to comment on it, write a review about it or parody it and you're allowed to make copies for yourself to use."

      That covers most of it.
      • by eldavojohn ( 898314 ) * <> on Friday September 18, 2009 @12:33PM (#29467801) Journal

        "You have the right to use small parts of something covered by copyright (like quoting a book for an essay) to comment on it, write a review about it or parody it and you're allowed to make copies for yourself to use."

        So you're saying that if I take very small samples of The Beatles' White Album (as I consider the album an entire work) and make new songs out of those small samples, it is completely legal [] and I can distribute or sell said reconstructions because they are small parts or parodies? Do I need to merely include a comment on my "mashup" to make that legal?

        Or if I take a single episode of the Family Guy (the whole series is what seven seasons now?) I can distribute that with my website with commentary on how it's great for society?

        • by selven ( 1556643 ) on Friday September 18, 2009 @12:39PM (#29467871)
          If you're actually doing some commentary on the pieces of the songs that you're using, then yes. And no, an episode of Family Guy is not a small piece - each episode is a standalone work.
          • by eldavojohn ( 898314 ) * <> on Friday September 18, 2009 @12:47PM (#29468003) Journal

            If you're actually doing some commentary on the pieces of the songs that you're using, then yes. And no, an episode of Family Guy is not a small piece - each episode is a standalone work.

            Yeah well, I said that to illustrate a point in what is a complete work? Did you know that a single song can be recorded over hundreds of hours spent in a studio? Is each snippet of a track recorded a "complete work"? What about the post recording processing that goes on? You're using that too, you know.

            I'm just trying to get you to think about the ways in which this whole fair use thing becomes ambiguous but apparently you can say what you feel like saying without quoting or citing one legal document or precedent ... and there you are at +5 informative. Great, keep teaching kids that.

            Go ahead and tell us what fair use is, I'm not pretending to be a lawyer but you're doing a fine job.

            As for my above post being moderated troll?! So much for discourse and discussion on nailing down the definition of "fair use." I cite Capitol Records chasing after the Grey Album and I'm the troll.

            Why do I even waste my time putting together posts? I am so sick and tired of this site.

            • by chrisbtoo ( 41029 ) on Friday September 18, 2009 @01:11PM (#29468373) Homepage Journal

              Why do I even waste my time putting together posts? I am so sick and tired of this site.

              I appreciated them, FWIW.

            • by Late Adopter ( 1492849 ) on Friday September 18, 2009 @01:31PM (#29468665)
              I feel like you are on some level being disingenuous here. Fair Use is intentionally ambiguous, since it is a question of spirit, not just enumerating that which is permitted. Pretending that distributing whole tracks or episodes of a show, even with your own work on top of it, doesn't excessively advantage from the work the original artists put into it, to score pedant points, borders on intentionally naive.

              The law is the best reference for this. 17 USC 107 lists the four factors to test, and gives illustrative (and not exclusive) examples to show what the purpose behind the doctrine is. If you are trying to do something that uses the work as a basis, you probably have a problem. If you are trying to merely talk about the work, and use small snippets of it to that end, you are probably ok. And then copying your own copies for your own exclusive purposes is ok.

              Parody gets a little tougher to talk about, since the case-law makes the distinction that what is meant is critical parody (which makes sense, given that it fits the pattern of the permitted classes), and not parody as a back-door to making a derivative work (in the Weird-Al sense). Note that Fair Use is not unique here: like any case that wanders too close to the boundaries of the law, you have to take it to a courtroom to know for sure. Wikipedia offers Mattel, Inc. v. Walking Mountain Productions and Art Rogers v. Jeff Koons as cases to reference.
              • by bzipitidoo ( 647217 ) <> on Friday September 18, 2009 @04:30PM (#29471089) Journal

                Could Fair Use be clearer? Maybe. But I'll spell out what I think he is getting at. Fair Use is inherently ambiguous. Saying that's intentional is like saying "I meant to do that" after making a mistake. Laws should not be unnecessarily ambiguous. There ought NOT to be a law where there is no need.

                Using one entire episode of a show is obviously not Fair Use, while using only 10% is regarded as fair. But at some point we always reach a gray area, and we always will. As an example, what about double or triple size episodes, in 30 minute installments, complete with "to be continued" announcements at the break points? Which 10% of that is fair? Could the first 6 minutes be used, or would the user have to take no more than 3 minutes from each 30 minute part? Suppose the producer tries to obscure things by purposely leaving out the "to be continued" announcements? To argue one way or another on that and similar questions is to miss the point. We shouldn't have to argue about that at all. We should not have fallen into the trap of wasting huge amounts of time and money trying to decide such things on a case by case basis. No there are not a finite number of circumstances, so we won't be able to eventually have a decision for every possible circumstance. And if we do have a decision, we can reopen and fight again and again. We shouldn't have to split hairs at all. We should avoid the entire issue, and replace copyright law. Find another way to justly compensate artists. Don't feed the confusopoly.

                As another example, take traffic lights. If we could afford to replace every intersection with an interchange, we would not need traffic lights, or laws concerning traffic lights. No more running of red lights. No more red light cameras and corruption involving the shortening of yellow lights in order to extort money from "violators". Most of all, no more waiting around at red lights. It's a nice dream, but at this time replacing every intersection is impractical. If we ever get flying cars.... Replacing copyright law on the other hand is not only much more possible, but necessary.

                I think technology will force us to scrap copyright. Copying will only become easier and faster and more deeply embedded in all that we do, and it is already impossible to stop the majority of copyright infringement that occurs constantly. Also the law is such a hopeless mess, based on bad foundations and bad ideas, it never will be possible for would-be obedient users to know that something they're doing is infringing or that something they want to do is not infringing. The law is so screwed up that just booting up a computer with Windows is an infringement, as the computer copies the OS from disk to memory, however fixing such specific issues by explicitly allowing them does not really help. The only way to be sure of complying with the law is never do anything at all-- never write any songs, books, never buy anything in case it might be pirated, never use a computer or a network or a phone, never even watch TV or listen to the radio lest you remember a jingle and sing it where someone else can hear. Of course we're not going to shut ourselves into boxes, instead, we're all criminals. Copyright must go.

            • by mcgrew ( 92797 ) * on Friday September 18, 2009 @01:46PM (#29468873) Homepage Journal

              The moderation system seems to be working, as your "-1, troll" has become a "+2, interesting" as it should be. It only takes two asshats to take an informative or interesting post and make it invisible.

              I'd like to add to the "fair use" thing: if you plagairize, aven a tiny bit, that is NOT fair use. If you don't give credit where creadit is due, you should be bitchslapped. It's usually easy to tell when something is not fair use, but I agree that it is hard to tell when something is.

              Perhaps if Comgress wasn't a wholly-owned subsidiary of the corporatti we could get fair use defined in understandable terms. We could also get a reasonable copyright length so it wouldn't be such a problem anyway. Why should Tolkien's, Hendrix's, or Walt Disney's work, or Gene Roddenberry's work be covered by copyright? He's dead, Jim. There's no way in hell you could ever convince any of the listed people to create more art.

              Now watch Paramount sue me for typing "he's dead, Jim".

            • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

              by WNight ( 23683 )

              what fair use is

              Anything that isn't unfair.

              It really is that simple. The only hitch is that lawyers who are paid to lie will claim that something is unfair simply because they see some money and think they can get it.

              Perhaps the lady fined $1.8 million will decide to buy bullets instead of paying anyone, then the definitions (or number of lawyers willing to argue it) will change.

              Yes, the law is crap in that it doesn't define anything but even if it did (think of how you clearly and explicitly don't need permission to use s

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by sbeckstead ( 555647 )
            Actually if the commentary covers the entire episode and the entire episode is required to illustrate the commentary then yes it is fair use. Fair use is not a law, it is a positive defense against a charge of copyright violation. Fair use is so nebulous that it cannot be stated more precisely than what was said in the GP.

            I took a course in High School where we dissected the film Cool Hand Luke , and we showed the whole thing. Then took pieces of it and commented on each piece one section at a time a
            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              I took a course in High School where we dissected the film Cool Hand Luke , and we showed the whole thing. Then took pieces of it and commented on each piece one section at a time and in the end we had reproduced the entire script and several images within the commentary. This was ruled fair use because we used the entire thing in the commentary and the commentary would be useless without the amount we used.

              As far as I know, "educational purposes" is itself often a defense against infringement charges. School bands don't have to pay fees for the music performances, only for the sheet music itself. In my college sports bands, we'd even have a few students write their own arrangements of songs.

              • by idontgno ( 624372 ) on Friday September 18, 2009 @03:12PM (#29470103) Journal

                I'm no copyright expert, but basic googleage tells me that even in an academic environment, public performance (i.e., a concert, marching band on the field, etc.) requires distinct license, above and beyond buying sheet music. But apparently, just performing music within a classroom setting for the purposes of teaching (for instance, in the band room while learning to read sheet music and tootle your tootler) isn't public performance.

                As to "educational purposes" as a particular defense against infringement charges, as far as I can tell it isn't. It appears to be one particular species of Fair Use, with varying degrees of success depending on the extent of the "infringement".

                IANAL, of course. But google agrees with me.

              • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

                by Gonarat ( 177568 ) *

                I'm not sure how it works everywhere, when my Daughter went to High School here in Louisville, KY., the band had to pay for the music they used on the field and in competition. The band director went through an organization that supplied the sheet music, made sure that the show purchased was not being used by any other band in any of the shows we were going to compete in, and made sure we had the right music for the instruments we were using. For our size band (50 to 75) students, the cost of the show we

    • by dlsmith ( 993896 )
      Sounds like there's "mention of fair use" right here in the summary:

      making copies for personal use and then playing them while your friends come over is illegal

      "Personal use" seems like a pretty reasonable approximation to "fair use," as far as school children are concerned. Why would they mention "making copies for personal use" at all if they're presenting all copying as illegal?

      • The UK Government's Health Services called. They have no problem with this curriculum, even if what is being taught by RIAA is contrary to what the parents (us) believe. And no this isn't off-topic.

        It all comes back to the same principle - we parents have lost control of what our children are being taught, and other organizations are filling in the gap. Our objections don't matter, because we voluntarily gave-up this control and handed-it over to the UKHS and RIAA.

        • by DrgnDancer ( 137700 ) on Friday September 18, 2009 @01:27PM (#29468603) Homepage

          UK Gov't Health tells kids to masturbate;Parents are angry. But when you have a monopoly, customer opinions don't matter

          Your sig and your post both present the same essential argument, and both suffer from the logical fallacy. I seriously doubt that the Uk government is telling kids to masturbate. I full believe and wouldn't even be surprised to hear that the UK government is telling kids something along the lines of "Current psychological research shows that masturbation is natural and/or healthy". The first is giving advice, the second merely stating a fact. Moreover the second is stating a TRUE fact. Whether or not you believe that masturbation is natural and/or healthy, the vast majority of current research shows that it is. Your moral judgment on the act itself cannot stand in the way of a simple statement on the current state of research *about* the act. You are perfectly free, at home, to tell your children that masturbation is a sin, and that they should not do it. The schools can, and should, present data about what the most current science on the matter says. Schools should not be in the business of teaching morals, but they are in the business of presenting scientific data to students.

          The same fallacy applies to your post about what RIAA is doing. While what the RIAA curriculum is teaching might be counter to your moral beliefs (i.e. you may believe that all information should be free and copyright laws are an abomination), unless it is factually inaccurate it doesn't matter. Schools are again not in the business of presenting moral arguments, they are in the business of presenting facts. In this case legal facts. If the facts are wrong (and in this case is seem that they are, if not wrong, certainly biased) then we should object. If the facts are right, and the curriculum does not stray into making moral declarations, then the fact that we'd like those facts to be different doesn't change anything. Objecting based on the idea that we'd rather our children didn't hear these facts is silly.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by tuxgeek ( 872962 )
        Shooting one self in the foot 101

        "making copies for personal use and then playing them while your friends come over is illegal"

        Not everyone listens to the radio
        One means of promotion of a great tune is when it's heard at a friend's home on their stereo
        If the CD is good, your friends will rush out and buy it.
        Sales soar, and the album goes platinum

        In order to protect and preserve the newly purchased CD, the wise consumer rips the thing to digital and then listens to music on their digital player of cho

      • by amicusNYCL ( 1538833 ) on Friday September 18, 2009 @02:13PM (#29469277)

        making copies for personal use and then playing them while your friends come over is illegal

        This sounds like FUD to me (courtesy of "selven", apparently). Here's one of the "activities" in one of the PDFs:

        Take a look at these scenarios. See if you can spot the songlifters who are breaking the copyright law...

        Caitlin wants to listen to music as much as possible. She copies all the music she buys online onto blank CDs so she can listen to her music when her friends come over to play. And she transfers the music she buys on CD onto her MP3 player so she can listen to her music when driving in the car with her family.

        Caitlin is not a songlifter because personal use is permitted when music fans buy their music. Caitlin can copy her music onto her hard drive and her MP3 player. Caitlin can even burn a CD with her own special mix of music she has purchased.

        I'd like to see a reference on where they say that it's illegal to play your music for your friends. That's specifically what I'm trying to find in the PDFs, I think that claim by TFS is false.

        Of course, this entire "program" seems like a nightmare to sit through. Look at this stuff, in the teacher's guide:

        Write the word songlifting on the chalk-board and ask students what they think it means.

        *raise hand* I know! That's a word that was made up by a shady corporate lobby.

        Have students conduct the survey [to find out who they know is a "songlifter"] as home- work, emphasizing that they should only collect information, not names. Use the chalkboard to compile their findings and investigate trends. For example: Which is the most common type of songlifting? Which age group has the most songlifters? Have students use the results of their survey to determine whether or not songlifting is a serious problem.

        So Billy, do you download songs? Oh yeah, what do you use? I haven't heard of that one, I should check it out. For research, I mean.

        Next, draw the copyright symbol on the
        chalkboard. Ask if students know what this
        symbol means and where they might have seen

        I weep for our nation's schoolchildren..

    • by Xeth ( 614132 )

      You could tell the children that copyright is not absolute, and that its primary purpose is to allow creators to make money off their copyrights. Sometimes, you can use pieces of their material for certain uses. You could follow it up with a few simple examples, like a short piece of a song, a screenshot of a game, etc.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by jedidiah ( 1196 )

        Yes, you could tell them that but then you would be a BIG FAT LIAR.

        Copyright doesn't exist to enrich artists and authors. Copyright exists to enrich society.

        The state sanctioned distribution monopoly is just something that the federal
        government is allowed to do in order to further that goal. The enticement of
        authors is a means to an end rather than a means unto itself.

        Although even the "corporate bootlicker" spun version of copyright
        still might leave students wondering wh

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by djnforce9 ( 1481137 )

      What I strongly believe is that the RIAA may find the current generation of teens and young adults to be pretty much a lost cause in terms of convincing them that "downloading is wrong/illegal/etc" because they will just end up doing it anyway (apparently making examples of people through massive lawsuits did not have enough influence). This could be for a variety reasons including being against the RIAA's policies, negative PR, how the RIAA have treated people (and even artists) in that past, or because ea

      • >>>I think the RIAA's actions here border on "sick" and "brainwashing" if you ask me. That's like if Coca Cola ran a program at schools informing children that all other brands are "harmful" and will have severe negative consequences if you drink them.

        I share the same thoughts about what UK Health Services is doing with telling schoolchildren "masturbation is good", but few seems to agree with me. For some reason if corporations do it, then it's bad, but if governments do it, then eve

    • by Bob9113 ( 14996 ) on Friday September 18, 2009 @12:54PM (#29468107) Homepage

      So given the above information, would you please outline how you would explain this to children?

      Step 1: Teach them critical thinking, instead of doctrine.

      Step 2: There is no step 2.

      Children should learn to think. With regard to controversial topics like copyright law or health care legislation, they should be encouraged to seek broad resources and to judge for themselves. They should never, under any circumstances, be indoctrinated into any belief. Not even beliefs about fair use, of which I am a rabid supporter.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by walshy007 ( 906710 )

        They should never, under any circumstances, be indoctrinated into any belief.

        Children are like sponges, it can be hard to do that sometimes

      • by jellomizer ( 103300 ) on Friday September 18, 2009 @01:57PM (#29469021)

        That is much harder then you think... Your biases are often sent to the children even if you are not trying to do so.
        Lets use Unions. I don't think teachers can fairly teach children about unions and their effect on the US and the world. As they are directly benefiting from the Unions so even if they try to teach both sides it makes it seem that Unions will benefit the Underclass at a slight expense to the upperclass, Created such advancements such as Minimum Wage, Weekends and Holidays. However there is little teaching about the other side of unions to allow full critical thinking. Such as past (And possibly current) Moffia ties. The fact that they are now separate organizations who are in the lookout for improving the Union vs. The individual worker. The fact that Unions can hinder HR for a company so much that the company cannot be allowed to modernize or improve efficiency, as efficiency improvements either mean less employees or employees doing more or more difficult work. Or the fact the Unions are now more of a political force who pressure (mostly the democrat party) to do things their way).

        Now that a teacher is a Union Member they will have a difficult time teaching the negatives especially if they feel these negatives are untrue or just a small side effect. Vs. someone else who sees it as a major side effect.

        Is it important when teaching say american history to cover big events say the civil war WWI and WWII (Where the US won and was considered the good guy) vs. Whisky Rebellion, War of 1812 (WHICH WE ACTUALLY LOST!), Vietnam... Where our goals wern't not always noble and our success wasn't so great.

        And do you have any idea what backlash you would have from the parents and politicians if you tried to teach children to look at both sides of WWII.

    • by cpt kangarooski ( 3773 ) on Friday September 18, 2009 @01:30PM (#29468643) Homepage

      Because it's not well defined. Fair use is, in my opinion, an abomination in that it's a "law" that's not defined in anyway.

      It is deliberately left undefined. A fair use is an otherwise infringing use which, under the totality of the circumstances, is fair. There are tests to help determine fairness, and there are trends as to the sorts of things that often are fair or unfair, but ultimately it is meant to be a a way of handling minor, otherwise infringing acts which should be allowed in the spirit of copyright, rather than the letter of the law; and it is a way of handling unusual and unforeseen acts.

      If you want specific exceptions for specific things, whether they are narrow or broad, that's fine, but then they should exist in addition to fair use, since they could never suffice to replace it.

      Remember, both law and equity are part of our legal traditions; don't be surprised that fair use is rooted in the latter.

      And what's even better is when I try to cite the safe harbor laws or portion limits on Slashdot, I'm ridiculed over and over (not that I've ever practiced law but as a citizen it's the most I can find) despite my analysis being correct!

      Fair use has no such things. I'm sorry that you are upset when people point this out to you. The best people can manage with fair use is to look at a number of cases, and try to discern trends. But each fair use case being unique, trends are of limited utility. There have been cases where small amounts of material were quoted from a work, and it was not fair, and there have been cases where entire works have been copied, and it was fair.

      If you're really interested in trying to know when a use is fair or not, I'd suggest learning the test and reading a number of the leading cases on fair use, including the recounting of the facts of the case, so you know just what the particular use happened to be. But this will only at best put you at the level of legal scholars, lawyers, judges, etc. who get it wrong fairly often. Courts have a hard time working out fair use, and reversals on appeal are not uncommon. It's just a difficult thing, and it can't be helped without destroying fair use in the process.

      Again, I think you'd be much better off leaving fair use (and your criticisms of it) aside, and instead pushing for additional statutory exceptions which would avoid your having to rely on fair use for things you wanted to do, while still leaving it in place for those who did need to rely on it.

      For example, I would like to see an exception that made any otherwise infringing act non-infringing (or at least non-actionable) if it was engaged in by a natural person, and was not commercial in nature or for profit, without affecting secondary liability. The idea being that Alice could engage in file sharing, but Bob could not run a torrent tracker that carried advertisements, or required a fee to access, nor could Carol require that people adhere to a particular ratio of uploads to downloads, nor could Dave sell the software used for this. Thus while we might reduce the amount of money that could be exploited from a particular copyright, at least about all the money there was to be had would still be funneled to the copyright holder. It also legitimizes a lot of what people are doing already, kind of like repealing Prohibition.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Hatta ( 162192 ) *

      my innocence would depend entirely on how much money I have for a lawyer ... not the law.
      How is that different from any other law?

  • by celibate for life ( 1639541 ) on Friday September 18, 2009 @12:23PM (#29467667)
    ... the internet will teach them what they really need: how to find warez.
  • How about rewards? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by garyisabusyguy ( 732330 ) on Friday September 18, 2009 @12:26PM (#29467699)

    Surely the riaa can take a lesson from the war on drugs and get the children to turn in their parents and friends for dmca violations!

    I mean c'mon wouldn't it be worth it to any kid to receive a free cd (with rootkit) for sending their parents, friends, neighbors and relatives to the slammer?

  • by croftj ( 2359 ) on Friday September 18, 2009 @12:26PM (#29467709) Homepage

    As long as the President didn't come up with it!

  • Really? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ZekoMal ( 1404259 ) on Friday September 18, 2009 @12:28PM (#29467735)
    So, instead of funding some better early introductions to sex-ed, better science classes, better...everything, we're expecting public schools to waste time telling kids not to burn disks?

    I mean, I'll play devil's advocate for a just a second: It didn't stop them from smoking, so why the hell do you think it'll stop them from doing a far easier to do "crime"?!

    • ... This is why I am hating public schooling more and more these days. They are not teaching your kids math and reading anymore ... they are teaching whatever the lobbyist want them to learn.
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by sbeckstead ( 555647 )
        You obviously have not had kids in school lately.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        "Propaganda institutions" is the phrase you're looking for. Many libertarians claim that's why public schools were created - to fill incoming immigrants with pro-american propaganda, but I think those people are nutters. I think public schools started with good intentions (like most government programs), but evolved into nothing more than soapboxes for lobbyists & others with agendas.

        See my sig for an example.

    • You checked out smoking rates in the US lately? Way down from it's peak.

      • You checked out smoking rates in the US lately? Way down from it's peak.

        ... because of schooling? or because of price?
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by ZekoMal ( 1404259 )
        I checked the schools. The groups of kids smoking. The larger groups of kids smoking on college campus. Way down, yes, but with adult smokers. "The results come from a survey of 54,301 regular smokers, part of the 2004 and 2006 National Youth Tobacco Survey of nearly 5 million 12- to 17-year-olds." (emphasis mine). Pulled from []. I'll see if I can find some evidence of kid smokers also decreasing, but...I don't think kid smokers
    • Because most of the illegal copying happened in the first place because no one was educated to the fact that it could be illegal. Since ignorance of the law is no excuse we should at least give them the tools to know when to hide what they are doing.
  • It's sad to me we're seeing this kind of curriculum foisted upon the classroom by dying industry when most public schools are pulling back Civics programs, and overall education about the law and democratic process. It's a sorry state indeed. Here's to the work of Sanda Day O'Connor though - who's at least trying to do something about it. (If you don't know who that is, you might need some remedial schooling yourself)
    • by petrus4 ( 213815 )

      It's sad to me we're seeing this kind of curriculum foisted upon the classroom by dying industry when most public schools are pulling back Civics programs, and overall education about the law and democratic process.

      The kids most likely wouldn't want to learn Civics themselves anywayz.

      That is a big part of the problem. We can't simply blame corporations for raising generations of increasingly brainless, servile consumers. There is a fundamental human craving to be as brainless and servile as possible.

      The one thing human beings will literally kill to avoid, more than anything else, is having to think.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Tony Hoyle ( 11698 )

        I'm not sure that's true. For some segment of society, maybe.. but for others less so.

        One of my earliest memories is of when a teacher was trying to tell me the alphabet and me demanding to know *why* B follows A and C follows B. I got 2 weeks of detention for that.. learned early that you don't ask questions in school, you just give them the correct answer and move on (one of my other lessons was - if you discover that the times tables can be done by adding numbers together, on no account let your teache

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by DrgnDancer ( 137700 )

          one of my other lessons was - if you discover that the times tables can be done by adding numbers together, on no account let your teacher know. Another two weeks of detention for working something out rather than rote learning it

          Wow. We were told that multiplication was a function of addition when we learned the tables, I'm fairly shocked not only that you weren't, but that you got in trouble when you figured it out. The correct way, IMO, was the way my elementary school teacher explained it: "Multiplication is simply addition of the same number to itself "multiple" times, and you *can* figure out 3x4 by simply adding three together 4 times. This can be really cumbersome with larger numbers though, so we memorize the multiplicat

  • by haplo21112 ( 184264 ) <<haplo> <at> <>> on Friday September 18, 2009 @12:30PM (#29467773) Homepage

    When my kid reaches school age can I make sure she doesn't get exposure to this blatant pack of lies. Will there be a letter sent home so I can OPT her out of gettig this "education".

    • by Homr Zodyssey ( 905161 ) on Friday September 18, 2009 @12:54PM (#29468103) Journal

      As a parent of a school-aged kid I can tell you that this is not how it works. They don't send home a letter telling you they're teaching polynomials, evolution or T.S. Elliot.

      However, they are VERY sensitive to potential lawsuits. Angry parents standing in the school office tend to get their way, regardless of the logic of their arguments. Stay involved. Ask your kids' teachers about the subjects they will be taught. Go to PTA meetings.

      The parents who sit around waiting for letters to be sent home to them are the parents who have no say in how the school is run.

  • by johnny cashed ( 590023 ) on Friday September 18, 2009 @12:34PM (#29467823) Homepage
    We were taught to share. Guess those chickens came home to roost eh?
  • Let's have that curriculum, and then a much more in depth look at Benjamin Franklin, arguably the smartest and most important of the founding fathers.

    "As we enjoy great advantages from the inventions of others, we should be glad of an opportunity to serve others by any invention of ours; and this we should do freely and generously."

    That's a quote I like in particular, RIAA, you rat bastards contrary to all human achievement and creativity. I hope you die a horrible, horrible, slow and agonising death, ever

  • The three Rs (Score:3, Interesting)

    by unlametheweak ( 1102159 ) on Friday September 18, 2009 @12:40PM (#29467889)

    Schools should focus on "The three Rs", Reading, wRiting, a aRithmetic, and secondarily on physical and sex education so people know how to be healthy.

    After they have been taught these things and have mastered English and communication skills enough to differentiate propaganda from civics and distinguish logical fallacies from legal dogma, then they can be taught about the RIAA and copyright in a Political Science class, and not as part of a religion.

  • Their site says "True music fans play by the rules." That's so fucking metal.

    I prefer the site [] (without the dash.)

  • So what rights will parents have to prevent their children from being taught these falsehoods? I can imagine quite a can of worms if schools don't want to let parents remove their children from instances where this is being taught.

    Better yet, can parents sit in on these teachings to make sure their kids aren't being blatantly lied to?

  • Awesome! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    "...the total damages from copyright infringement by children in the US amount to a measly $7.8 million."

    So, going by the 80,000 per song that Jammie Thomas had to shell out divided by the $7.8 million worth of damages stated here, this is saying that children in the US have downloaded a combined 97.5 songs!

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by amicusNYCL ( 1538833 )

      That's sort of different then what they claim in the teacher's guide PDF:

      Total number of songs lifted = 7,800,000;
      Total cost of songs lifted = $7,722,000

      So which is it RIAA, is a song worth $80,000 or is a song worth $.99? In order for a court to award damages of $80,000 for distribution of one song that costs $.99 to purchase, that makes the assumption that a single person distributing a song equates to a loss of 80,808 sales. That's a bit of a stretch.

  • President Obama (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ehaggis ( 879721 ) on Friday September 18, 2009 @12:54PM (#29468109) Homepage Journal
    And people were up in arms about President Obama speaking in the schools? I'd much rather have an inspirational speech by our president than propaganda by a private organization.
  • The dogs can sniff out a DVD? Do they work on DVD only, or can they do BluRay as well?
  • Erm... EPIC FAIL (Score:5, Insightful)

    by M-RES ( 653754 ) on Friday September 18, 2009 @01:00PM (#29468195)

    Compounding the bias, it includes insights such as that taking music without paying for it is 'songlifting,' and that making copies for personal use and then playing them while your friends come over is illegal.

    Erm, no it isn't illegal. What if the music you're 'taking without paying for it' has been released as CC or Public Domain? Personally, since all the crap first started kicking off back in the Napster days I've released all of my own music as CC and sold some for commercial use, but my small fanbase always appreciated that I'd give them tracks for free and sell them CDs for the cost of the materials and they were free to share them around with friends (I encouraged it), because it was free publicity that got me bigger attendances at gigs and thus better gigs with better pay. Filesharing is a great thing for artists. Major labels are bad bad bad things for artists and will only screw them over to exploit their talent without fair compensation. I bet the RIAA don't talk about THAT fact do they?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by VeNoM0619 ( 1058216 )

      Erm, no it isn't illegal. What if the music you're 'taking without paying for it' has been released as CC or Public Domain?

      Exactly this will have fail written all over it. The kid will go to these classes and come home to, then question it.

      That's how I learned (for better or worse), if I could question one thing and prove it's wrong, then the entire lesson could be corrupt and I took it as a "everything taught in this lesson could be true" for later research/discussion outside of the teachers view. Kind of like how they said sex was bad.

  • by photomonkey ( 987563 ) on Friday September 18, 2009 @01:01PM (#29468203)

    I bet I'll lose a ton of karma here, but...

    What's wrong with teaching kids about respecting copyright? I agree completely that the US system is far from perfect, but we do have copyright laws on the books, and they're there for a good reason.

    Most artists are not rich. The ability to control their music, pictures, paintings, designs, etc. allows them to pay bills very much in line with the ordinary Joe. It's a job. They should get paid for their job, if their work is in demand.

    The Internet generation seems to think that if you can touch something, you can have it. I've started to see that 'entitlement' thing that the older folks keep talking about. Stuff on the Internet is not necessarily free. Sure, there are plenty of people who do make their songs, pictures etc. available for free legitimately. Why not download that? I'm betting it's because much of the time, it's not nearly as good as the paid-for stuff.

    More people should be taught to respect copyright; even if it only leads to a change in the laws on the books (specifically, I hate the lifetime+70. Far too long.). But illegal downloading really IS stealing. I know that's an unpopular view, and the cartels have done nefarious things trying to enforce the laws, but it remains a fact.

    And as to the fair use argument:

    1) Fair Use is an admissive defense for copyright infringement. Meaning, you don't get to do something because it's fair use, you do it and if you get sued, you make a case for fair use.

    2) Fair Use generally does not encompass making copies of something to give to someone else. It also does not encompass putting complete or majority portions of a work, say, online for review or critique purposes.

    3) People should be able to make backups of CDs and movies (except for the lousy 'decryption' provision), and even shift between media.

    But let's not pretend that downloading something you don't own or have license to use is somehow OK; much less Fair Use.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      What's wrong with teaching kids about respecting copyright?

      Nothing, as long as you are teaching them actual law.

      Back in the day, when plain paper copy machine began to pop up in places like public libraries, people had an understanding of copyright that was simple and wrong. Most people thought that you could copy anything you wanted in any amount if it was for personal use. No-one was prosecuted for copying too many pages out of a book. Now, with the Internet, things are more complicated, but people haven't kept up.

      A good teacher would make a passing refe

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by photomonkey ( 987563 )

        And until schools step up and start doing that, outsiders will come in to do it in their version.

        We've seen it already with drugs and sex-ex. It's true, not fucking is the only way to not get pregnant. But that doesn't mean it's abstinence-only that should be taught. Yet, in many schools teachers would rather let someone else come in to talk about an uncomfortable subject; even if it's a little spun.

        Same deal with digital downloads. The article mentions a few artists who do make their stuff freely avail

    • Did you read the summary? They are telling kids it is illegal to put a CD and play it when friends are over, because your friends don't have a license, so that is stealing.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Zordak ( 123132 )
      I agree with you to a point (hey, I'm an IP attorney---IP is my bread and butter). But I can also see the outrage. I don't want lobbyists spoon-feeding my children propaganda. If they have a class that informs them about copyright, wonderful. But I don't think it's a topic for elementary school (middle school/junior high, maybe), and I want the curriculum designed by somebody other than a lobby group that's heavily invested in a particular business model (I know Jack Valenti was MPAA, not RIAA, but "If
    • by itsdapead ( 734413 ) on Friday September 18, 2009 @01:35PM (#29468727)

      But illegal downloading really IS stealing.

      No it isn't: Illegal downloading is copyright infringement - it may be against the law, but it has nothing to do with theft. In other news, dropping litter is not assault with a deadly weapon, and shoplifting is not murder.

      Dropping gum on the sidewalk is reprehensible behaviour, but we don't call it "attempted shoe homicide" and send people to the Big Chair for it.

      Last time I looked, the only religion which included "Thou shalt not infringe copyright" in its commandments was Scientology.

      That's the problem: there's nothing wrong with teaching kids the facts about copyright. The problem is with teaching kids industry propaganda about copyright which exagerates its seriousness, and is really about vested interests trying to maintain control of the industry in an age when most musicians would do better by givimng away music and making their money from gigs and t-shirts.

  • So the RIAA has created this literature, is there any evidence that a significant number of schools are taking time away from the SOL test preparation in order to teach this stuff. (School payola, perhaps the RIAA will be caught bribing teachers to present this stuff, wouldn't that be a hoot?)
  • Don't they remember the effect D.A.R.E. had? It actually increased drug use...

    Basically, they'll be telling kids how to get all the stuff they want for free.

  • Quite Honestly (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Greyfox ( 87712 ) on Friday September 18, 2009 @01:06PM (#29468279) Homepage Journal
    We need some copyright and IP law education in our schools. Your average citizen wouldn't realize that it's a copyright violation to scan that wedding picture that a professional photographer took (99 times out of 100 unless you negotiated that in the contract.) The average citizen thinks you can just grab stuff off the web and use it. The average citizen thinks that if it's there it must be legal. And I'm willing to bet that your average congressman knows not much more than your average citizen.

    We're in this mess now because we ignored these issues and didn't complain when Congress kept tipping the scales in favor of the large corporations who own most of the copyrights. Copyright law offers us very little protection now, and it offers the artists who actually create the work very little protection either. And nothing will change it until more people know what's going on with it and are angry enough to make some changes.

    I'm not saying that the very parasites who have effected this situation in the first place should be the ones in charge of that education, but I think a well balanced program is required.

  • Corporate propaganda passed off as school curriculum? Only in the United States of Avarice.
  • by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Friday September 18, 2009 @01:09PM (#29468335) Homepage

    Sharing? that's bad, Stop sharing with billy.

    and children, you do know that you kill kittens when you share? Also you are being very bad if you sing a song you heard on the radio without paying for the right to do so?

    yes billy, your mother is a criminal for singing "happy birthday" to you yesterday. She is evil and should be put away.

    you know kids, it's up to you to watch your parents and report any suspicious or bad behavior.

  • NO WAY (Score:3, Funny)

    by Absolut187 ( 816431 ) on Friday September 18, 2009 @01:12PM (#29468385) Homepage

    There is absolutely now way I would EVER send my kid to a school run by the RIAA.
    Unless it was free. AND I would have to get 25 free mp3s.

  • by ivogan ( 678639 ) on Friday September 18, 2009 @01:23PM (#29468555)
    My daughter is in 3rd grade this year and after reviewing the material I can say that if I hear of this happening in our school, I will be making a b-line to the superintendent's office. We don't need any more politically biased material perverting the minds of our children. If all aspects of the issue were discussed, my stance might be slightly different.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      I will be making a b-line to the superintendent's office.

      I hope you'll be going in a straight line there, as it will be quicker. 'B-line' is actually 'bee-line', meaning the way a bee meanders all over the place on its way from one point to another.

  • REALLY? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Logical Zebra ( 1423045 ) on Friday September 18, 2009 @01:31PM (#29468657)

    ...playing them while your friends come over is illegal

    So if my wife and I listen to a CD in the car, I'm violating the law? Should I have purchased two copies of the CD?

    That is, perhaps, the absolute stupidest thing I have ever heard in my life.

    The RIAA really needs to get a better PR wing.

  • by nimbius ( 983462 ) on Friday September 18, 2009 @01:37PM (#29468741) Homepage
    RIAA is flagrantly dated in its message and mission. the site features clipart kids from the 90's, one with a device that looks more like a minidisc or walkman player than any IPod or Zune ive ever seen, and both sporting headphones that look nothing like those that might be worn by the average school kid (buds, or clips usually.)

    I feel whiney for mentioning it, maybe im i the only one rather concerned both kids are black?
  • by TX297 ( 861307 ) on Friday September 18, 2009 @01:48PM (#29468889) Homepage

    With a teacher's help, students then calculate how "big a problem" songlifting isâ"by multiplying the total number of songs by $0.99.

    So they're basically admitting that the actual damages are just $0.99 a song? Seems like a way to take the RIAA on under the 8th amendment using their own propaganda against them.

  • RIAA Math (Score:5, Funny)

    by Jason Levine ( 196982 ) on Friday September 18, 2009 @01:57PM (#29469019) Homepage

    Ok, kids. Settle down. Today in RIAA Math, we're going to learn how to calculate damages from online piracy. Let's say Billy here has shared a song online. Now, we don't know exactly how many people downloaded it so we'll just take a random guess: Fifty million. Now the intellectual property value of that song is $100,000 so...

    Yes, Susie? No, just because the song sells on iTunes for $0.99 doesn't mean it's "intellectual property value" is $0.99. Remember, we're talking about "intellectual property value", not "commercial market value."

    Anyway, the intellectual property value of that song is $100,000 so Billy now owes the RIAA Fifty million times $100,000, or... Anyone? Right, Thomas. $5 trillion.

    Now, best estimates by the RIAA Association of Piracy Estimations are that there are twenty million people like Billy. Since each Billy damages the RIAA by $5 trillion, how much does all online piracy damage the RIAA? Very good, Melissa. $100 quintillion.

    Everyone get's an A.... What, Susie? No, those figures aren't worthless. No, I didn't just pluck numbers from out of thin air. World GDP is $60 trillion? Susie, you've obviously been reading some non-RIAA approved materials. See me after class. Everyone else is dismissed.

  • by bachnit37 ( 1175869 ) on Friday September 18, 2009 @02:05PM (#29469147)

    My Sirius subscription expires on the 22nd and I called to renew. After reviewing their packages I selected one and as we got around to taking my card number they said... "Ok, we have you set up for the monthly plan at $12.95 plus the $1.98 artist royalty fee so you will be charged 14.93 a month."

    I said not a chance am I paying a royalty fee on top of my subscription fee. You just lost a subscriber.

  • *lifting (Score:5, Funny)

    by Dalzhim ( 1588707 ) on Friday September 18, 2009 @02:07PM (#29469191)
    Shoplifting = stealing from a shop Songlifting = copying a song without paying for that copy Weightlifting = stealing weights from a gym Facelifting = stealing someone's look/style Lambdalifting = stealing variables from a function etc.
  • by advocate_one ( 662832 ) on Friday September 18, 2009 @02:27PM (#29469467)
    right, memorise that number and throw it back in their faces every time they start pulling ridiculous billion dollar figures for damages out of the air again...
  • I sent an email... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by samcan ( 1349105 ) on Friday September 18, 2009 @03:23PM (#29470219)

    I sent an email to the address at the bottom of the site...

    Dear Sir or Madam,

    It was with great interest that I perused the materials on the Music Rules website. (On a side note, it doesn't work properly with Firefox 3.0.) I agree that piracy of music is a problem, and some reform of copyright law is needed. However, I believe that your educational materials are misleading and sometimes directly contradict actions of the RIAA in the past.

    In the teacher's guide, on page 4, the answer to question #2 (left column) is given:

    Caitlin is not a songlifter because personal use is permitted when music fans buy their music. Caitlin can copy her music onto her hard drive and her MP3 player. Caitlin can even burn a CD with her own special mix of music she has purchased.

    This however contradicts earlier cases where the RIAA has pursued music pirates for doing this exact same thing. A Washington Post [] article from 2007:

    Now, in an unusual case in which an Arizona recipient of an RIAA letter has fought back in court rather than write a check to avoid hefty legal fees, the industry is taking its argument against music sharing one step further: In legal documents in its federal case against Jeffrey Howell, a Scottsdale, Ariz., man who kept a collection of about 2,000 music recordings on his personal computer, the industry maintains that it is illegal for someone who has legally purchased a CD to transfer that music into his computer.

    The industry's lawyer in the case, Ira Schwartz, argues in a brief filed earlier this month that the MP3 files Howell made on his computer from legally bought CDs are "unauthorized copies" of copyrighted recordings.

    The teacher's guide also ignores the term, "fair use." While fair use is quite limited in U.S. law, generally being restricted to purposes of research and parody, if the RIAA wants to teach third-graders the term, "DMCA notice," why not "fair use?"

    Coverage of alternative forms of copyright appears to be non-existent as well, such as the Creative Commons licenses, which allow the creator to turn over specific rights to others, such as the right to modify, or distribute. Public domain coverage is missing as well. Old recordings from before 1923 (such as Edison's early record player) on the Library of Congress site thus would be public domain, and free to download. The materials would scare kids into thinking that everything is copyrighted, and thus illegal.

    The materials also should recommend sites where music can be legally downloaded for free. One example is, which contains recordings of public domain works, but also contemporary works where the composer has expressed willingness for his music to be shared. . Warnings should be balanced with alternatives. Also, you could recommend the students to whenever possible purchase music directly from the artist, so that the artist is paid a fair amount.

    U.S. federal government training materials ignore this distinction, preferring the "all downloaded music is illegal" mantra. For example, see this training website [] (it's screen 27 of 48). I can disprove this by visiting this Wikipedia link, where I can download a copy of the W.W.S.S. Wind Ensemble with Dennis Smith playing Arthur Pryor's arrangement of "Blue Bells of Scotland," released under the EFF's Open Audio License (,_for_Trombone_and_Band.ogg []). Similarly, recordings by U.S. military bands, being created by the U.S. government, are generally also public domain.

    Copyright reform does need to be effected in the United States. The clause in the Constitution governing copy

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