Just say no to downloading
Remember those anti-drug lectures and videos from junior high? Well, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune (via Boing Boing) reports that the Federal government has brought those same get-'em-early techniques to at least one school in Minneapolis in an effort to combat music and movie piracy among kids. The Star-Trib reports that Jon Dudas, director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, stopped off in a Minneapolis elementary school to deliver the message: "You wouldn't take a CD off the shelf without paying for it. And you shouldn't get music on the Internet without paying for it." Apparently, Dudas' audience of 5th graders had already been treated to "an anti-piracy video provided by the U.S. Department of Commerce." Certainly, intellectual property theft is a serious crime, but one wonders whether it is serious enough - and if the issues around copyright protection have been sufficiently worked out - to justify pushing the message into the minds of America's 11-year-olds. What's your take?
Posted by Oliver Ryan 10:47 AM 43 Comments comment | Add a Comment

Does anyone else remember "Don't copy that floppy"?

Posted By Oliver, Boston MA : 11:47 AM  

I think it's great! That is not too young to convey the message-- many kids are pretty sophisticated at that age.
Posted By Marilyn Halamandaris, Villa Park, CA : 12:36 PM  

ha ha ha hah haaa hah ha hoo ha - what a friggin' bunch of idiots!
Posted By veni, dallas, tx : 12:41 PM  

Similar campaigns have not worked for drugs and won't work on downloading. An unattended 11 yr old has far more to fear from the internet than the media giants from the 11yr old.
Posted By Patrick, Manassas VA. : 12:42 PM  

The trouble is, there is some free music on the Internet. To determine whether a download is legal, you need information that may not be available to you.
Posted By Michael Covington, Athens, Ga. : 12:59 PM  

Trying to make the issues black and white with children insults their intelligence and will ultimately fail. 5th graders are smarter than many people think. There is a distinction between file sharing and piracy - I think it would be better to explain to children what is allowed and what is not.

If I buy a CD from a music store, why shouldn't I lend it to my friend so he or she can listen to it? It's mine after all - I paid for it. If I take the song files from the CD and transfer them to my friend over the internet, how is this different from physically handing over a plastic disc copy?

What's the difference between taping a television show using an old-fashioned VCR and then fast-forwarding through the commercials and downloading an internet copy of a TV show? It amounts to the same thing, does it not?

These are better examples to illustrate piracy - the example of talking a "CD off the shelf without paying for it" is silly.
Posted By Anthony Vlasics, Toronto, CANADA : 1:17 PM  

Clearly America has it's priorities backward. I would hate to live in a country where our children understand patent laws to internet music, but they can't read the music label or count the change to purchase the album.
Posted By Peter Hooper, Greensboro, NC : 1:19 PM  

I'm not sure that downloading files illegally is on the same level as drug abuse. However, if an entire generation comes along not seeing any issue with stealing intellectual property, then there could be larger ramifications. A large portion of U.S. GDP and the economy as a whole is based on the concept of intellectual property. If this process begins getting undermined, then the global economy could begin suffering.
Posted By Heath Ackley Columbus, OH : 1:26 PM  

The government should be saying "Just say no to Hollywood, read a book or get some exercise". With the movie industry, big music labels and video games pumping out so much mind numbing trash in recent years, it's no wonder there are so many un-imaginative obese lazy people in the U.S. Maybe the government should sue the entertainment industry the same way it sued "big tobacco" for creating public health problems.
Posted By S. Huttle, NY, NY : 1:56 PM  

Good to see our tax dollars at work protecting the recording industry. After all, why use those dollars for useless educational stuff like reading and writing and math?
Posted By C. Craig, McHenry, IL : 1:57 PM  

The government should put copyright protection on the bottom of their priority list. It appearsLobbyists for the Entertainment Industry have the ears of select government officials. Those officials should focus on more pressing issues that face our nation today.
Posted By Michael, Toms River, NJ : 2:04 PM  

The government should stop trying to control music sharing and focus their efforts on measures that are within their control. As long as the internet exists, music sharing will occcur. People will find a way to make it happen regardless of the consequences put forth by the government.
Posted By Steve Gaston. Beaverton, OR : 2:20 PM  

Tell it to China!
Posted By Anonymous : 2:20 PM  

As is the usual practice in this country, we continue to treat the symptom, but not find the cause. The reason for music and movie piracy is the high price of CDs and DVDs in the US market.
I submit to you that if CD's are priced in the $4-6 range, and DVDs for twice that amount, piracy will be a non-issue. Want proof - original CDs and DVDs are available in this price range in India and other Asian countries. Hollywood will sell more to make this a profit neutral situation.
Posted By Anand, St. Paul, MN : 2:32 PM  

lol, I see the RIAA's lobbyist group in Washington is getting enough money to our elected officials.

I would prefer classtime be dedicated to learning something valuable...not about ways to preserve an antiquated and outdated business model such as that of the music industry.
Posted By Brian, Charlotte, NC : 2:58 PM  

Childhood obesity, diabetes, violence on television and in video games, teens that kill...no, protecting the profits of Sony and Sting should take priority. I'm totally in favor of such lessons.
Posted By Robin Bernhard, Gardnerville, Nevada : 3:01 PM  

Copyright infringement is NOT theft. Quit bluring the lines between the two.
Posted By Bob T., Austin, TX : 3:25 PM  

As norms for obtaining media are developed early, the age of 11 is certainly appropriate for delivering an anti-piracy message to children in schools.
Posted By David Whitcomb, Grand Forks, ND : 3:25 PM  

Yes, 11 years old is a good age to push the idea. Music piracy is theft, plain and simple
Posted By Michael, Scotts Valley, CA : 3:25 PM  

In my view, the get-'em-early technique is very similar to the "brainwashing" routine in the CIA playbook.

On a separate note, shouldn't we be concerned that the video might have the inadvertent effect of promoting piracy to kids who are unaware that they can illegally download music/movie from the Net for free? The possibility that a kid who have seen the video will one day start downloading music and movies because it's "something" to do when facing boredom is very real. Kids are curious by nature and they are more likely to try stuff at least once.
Posted By Chau Nguyen, Atlanta, Georgia : 3:34 PM  

If the music industry would realize that consumers aren't willing to pay as much for today's lesser talent, they might not see so much money supposedly lost to piracy.

The movie industry routinely discounts DVD's shortly after their initial release. Why do CD's cost so much, 10+ years after they first hit the market?
Posted By Joe, Denver, CO : 3:42 PM  

If I buy a book and photocopy it than give it to my friend to read would you consider this a crime. Music charing is the new generation. If musicians don't like it then they can stop making music
Posted By Eric, NYC : 3:46 PM  

This is absolutely the right thing to do, especially for kids. The more we see and hear anti-piracy messages the more conscious we'll all be that this is simply theft, although it doesn't really feel like it because you're in the privacy of your own home. The more we're reminded of this the less piracy we'll have, at least in the US. Everywhere else nobody really cares.
Posted By Gene Odyssey, Houston TX : 4:27 PM  

I'd be inclined to say that it's utterly ridiculous. We have this huge of a trade deficit and we're spending tax dollars to protect the music industry? That's crap and everybody involved knows it's crap.
Posted By Matt, Mukilteo, WA : 4:57 PM  

Kids these days are able to use their resources on computers at a much younger age than previous generations, their knowledge of what these machines are capable of doing is becoming extense. I do not think that their reasoning and social and cultural judgement developes quite as fast, to them being able to get a free song or movie off the net is just that, free. Even if they do understand that stealing is wrong, most kids do not think this form of pirating is actually stealing and it shows no consequences or even harm done to the artists.
Posted By Tara A. Shawnee, Ks : 5:02 PM  

Whatever, if the price of CDs were half the current 17 dollars maybe I might buy one. As it is Ebay is an excellent source for legal low cost music. The government and public schools should be concerned with math, science, english and history, not how much money the root kitting Sonys are loosing to piracy.
Posted By Mark Zerach, Houston, Texas : 5:54 PM  

It can be legal to download music off the internet without paying for it. For example, if I record a song and offer it for free to anyone, it is a legal download. To say downloading an MP3 file is illegal is not correct.

I don't agree with the saying "if you get something without paying for it, it must be illegal". What about Air Miles? What about Firefox? Just because everything in a shopping mall has a price tag, does not mean everything in real life has a price tag.
Posted By Joe, Billings, MT : 6:12 PM  

While I understand the "address before it becomes and issue" methodology applied here, I believe that the State/Government can use their resources in a more productive manner.

The millions that it will cost (you know, the $40,000 private jet/car rental, $50,000 hammer) to implement a program that is not addressing a pressing issue, is a waste of money. There are issues like Gulf War Syndrome (which the government says doesn't exist), Veteran of Armed Forces programs that are in dire need of funding, Medicaid/Social Security program going down the tube and much much more.

Since when is a corporate issue a Government affair? This is similar to Congress and the Major League baseball inquiries. Baseball is a private enterprise, so why are they concerned with the sport, when their own commission and organizations don't pay attention to it. They are just spending OUR tax money where it shouldn't be spent. Let the music industry sponsor such a tactic.
Posted By Joe Cas, Las Vegas : 6:43 PM  

The analogy between stealing a CD and downloading a copyrighted song is a weak one. When you download a copyrighted song illegally, you only cause harm if you would otherwise have purchased the song. If not, then you've created a value for yourself without an offsetting loss for someone else. By comparison, when you steal a CD you've deprived the owner of that physical copy of the CD of its value. Whether or not you would otherwise have purchased the CD, you've made yourself a little richer at the cost of making them a little bit poorer.
Posted By Michael, Southborough, Massachusetts : 6:49 PM  

I understand that the steps taken by the Dept. of Commerce are done with the best intentions of trying to enforce the law, however there are greater concerns our 5th graders should be aware of and illegal downloading is nowhere near the top of the list. It's like NASA, they spend billions to find out the truths of our solar system and universe but there are other matters where funds could be better use. However, the real shame in all of this is that the Dept. of Commerce is being influenced by the music industry and it all comes down to money. At least NASA is searching for truth, the Dept. of Commerce is just trying to make money.
Posted By Nick, Scottsdale : 6:57 PM  

I think that it is serious enough to get into the minds of 11-year-olds. People look at the entertainment industry and wonder why concert tickets are so expensive and why movies cost so much. Some of it can be attributed to the high dollar paid to the stars of sound and screen, but a lot of it can also be contributed to the theft of the intellectual property. If one person buys a cd or a movie for $20 and posts it on the internet and 1 million people downlaod that cd or movie, then that's $20 million that the industry looses. They are going to have to make up the money somewhere. This is usually done through higher prices for the products or tickets. This also has consequences on the unintended. Entertainment retail is struggling. Companies are closing up shop because people feel that they don't need to buy their entertainment media. They think that it only costs $2.00 to make a CD so why should they pay $16.99? The fact of the matter is that it costs much more than $2.00 to make that CD and unless the record label gets the money that it needs to pay the artists and producers it will raise the price of the cd that the retailer pays who will in turn raise the price for the consumer. This spiral of misconception continues until the retailer closes it's doors. This affects real people! People lose their jobs at the labels, at the distributors, and at the retail outlets. If there are no people to promote the entertainment industry and no money to be made in it, then why create entertainment? This would be a very sad world without music or movies. People say that retail is behind the times, but I ask what fun is shopping in a store if you walk in and all that's there to greet you is a big computer monitor?
Posted By Chris Olney,MD : 9:52 PM  

Technically, it's file sharing. And, everyone know the quality of these files are never as crisp and clear as the CD on the store shelf. Why are people "sharing" these files? Because the music industry charges way too much for CD's. Anyway, Mariah Carey was still able to sell 5 million copies of her CD last year. I am willing to buy a CD if its worth the money.
Posted By JC Herrera, Miami, FL : 10:09 PM  

I think it's right
Posted By Kevin Milton : 10:43 PM  

I would say that is a good time to try and influence their decision to steal music on the internet. I can attest, because the last time I have personally paid for music was in 5th grade. As a 6th grader, I began downloading. At this point, my college pays for us to download music through Napster, but I will never be able to bring myself to pay for music again. It's something I grew up viewing as a free novelty from a young age.
Posted By Bob, New York, NY : 11:28 PM  

If the government's anti-piracy messages are as effective as their anti-drug messages, the recording industry is in for a bleak future. Having equated marijuana with heroin and methamphetamines, are they now going to paint music piracy on par with bank robbery and murder?
Posted By Lincoln Madison, San Francisco, CA : 12:02 AM  

Where to start?

First, note how effective the 'Just say no' campaign was for drugs. Meh.

Second, note how effective Dudas has been in cleaning up his own house at the USPTO. Disaster.

Third, I wonder how much is the Dept. of Commerce into the RIAA, and how long have they been dating?

The state of affairs in our government and society is truly sickening when the best thing our public officials can talk to impressionable 11-year-olds about is 'don't download music without paying for it'. Nevermind that your parents are getting foreclosed upon because they, like the rest of the U.S., are way over their heads in questionable debt. Nevermind that people are starving and homeless right here in this county. And please, for goodness sake, don't pay attention to the ever widening gap between those who have (RIAA, Big Oil) and those who have not (namely, you, children).

Posted By G, Fort Collins, CO : 12:20 AM  

Great idea. But they should have started it in the 60's and 70's when everyone was doing it on casette tape.
Posted By Dan, Racine WI. : 2:31 AM  

In general, most American kids grow up with high ethical values when compared with many other countries. We all know mp3 files are available for download at so many p2p networks, but still a good majority of us pay for downloads. Otherwise Apple music download could not have done such a good business. I wonder how much revenue is really lost due to file sharing in homeland than in abroad. How can we preach or enforce ethics in other countries? Music download is small thing compared to counterfeit of much bigger and valuable merchandise starting from motorbike to sports shoe. How do we plan to curb those practices?
Posted By Soumya Mitra, Fremont, Califormia : 2:40 AM  

music isnt intellectual property by any means.....kids should be able to express themselves freely......if an artist is that good, they can make money touring and through promotions....a little tougher than earning money the hard way...like most young americans will have to do in their future...let them enjoy themselves
Posted By Rick Philadelphia : 8:32 AM  

I fully agree with the necessasity and validity of property rights in a capitalistic democratic republic, but one has to question the message we send when we equate corporate intellectual property right infringement and early drug use as being on the same level of intensity and severity.

It makes one question whether the profit margins of corporate America should enter into the education program for our youth. I would suggest that there are other ways of increasing civic discipline without the institution of blatant corporate interest in the formative years of young citizens.
Posted By Peter, Silver Springs, Maryland : 8:44 AM  

Certainly is important as it's theft. Only a bigger effort should be made battling it in China, Russia, Africa etc where it's a real big time epidemic.
Posted By Joanne, Antwerp, Belgium : 9:05 AM  

I don't know the last time the Federal Gov't sent their representatives to tell kids how to. . . . "plan for your future", "learn usefull finance skills", "solve life problems", or even "how to contribute to society".

This initiative is equilvalent to polishing the doorknobs of a sinking ship.
Posted By Scott Kim; Philadelphia, PA : 10:23 AM  

"If I buy a book and photocopy it than give it to my friend to read would you consider this a crime."

If it's a copyrighted book, you're not allowed to make a copy. It doesn't matter whether you're lending it to a friend, or selling it to a stranger for a profit.

While the subject matter seems nowhere near the same league as drugs (because you're far less likely to suffer any negative physical effects) it still could be a good subject for teaching schoolkids about learning the rules, and questioning actions that other people assure them are "okay."
Posted By Rachel, San Jose, CA : 8:18 PM  

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Most stock quote data provided by BATS. Market indices are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer. Morningstar: © 2018 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Factset: FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2018. All rights reserved. Chicago Mercantile Association: Certain market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. Dow Jones: The Dow Jones branded indices are proprietary to and are calculated, distributed and marketed by DJI Opco, a subsidiary of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC and have been licensed for use to S&P Opco, LLC and CNN. Standard & Poor's and S&P are registered trademarks of Standard & Poor's Financial Services LLC and Dow Jones is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC. All content of the Dow Jones branded indices © S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC 2018 and/or its affiliates.