Thursday, October 04, 2007

WIPO unveils children's copyright law workbook

WIPO are back in the teach 'em young about copyright game with a new copyright workbook for kids. Nate Anderson at Ars Technica reckons it is surprisingly balanced when compared to previous efforts though William Patry has some concerns.

"The WIPO effort has a section on the public domain and other limitations (pages 40-47), a fact that distinguishes it from almost all other such efforts. The booklet even provides links to places where one can obtain access to pd or free use works. There are also features with young creators and good information about copyright basics. WIPO has made genuine efforts to present a balanced view.

My unease comes from the lengthy section on copyright infringement, including a page called "Game: Defending Authors and Performers," which attempts to teach children to distinguish between legal and illegal actions, prefaced with this statement: "You understand the purpose of copyright and related rights and want to respect the rights of authors and performers that you admire." Previous to this are conclusions like "Piracy makes legal copies more expensive," and paragraphs about piracy taking away needed incentives.

It is not impossible to view the pages and pages of biographies of young authors as the prelude to the section on piracy. None of the young authors featured are however likely to have any piracy worries and thus one wonders why the heavy emphasis on them: could the idea of transference be at play, a desire to have children identify with young authors their own age (or others they are told they "admire") and then transfer that identification to multinational corporate copyright owners? I don't defend piracy if defined as counterfeiting, but I think we have to be very careful not to manipulate young children under the guise of educating them."

Jon Newton at P2PNet is more blunt in his criticism.

"The book seems to me to be heavily weighted in favour of the copyright cartels and IMHO, any attempt at balance is little more than window dressing

For example, DRM (Digital Restrictions Management) is an impossible concept which is being abandoned by the corporate entertainment cartels, with EMI, and Vivendi Universal leading the way.

Anything which can be seen or heard can be copied by one means or another.

But the WIPO book presents DRM as a fait accompli - a done deed.

It states, flatly:
In order to protect their works from infringement, right holders are using the same tool that made their works so vulnerable in the first place - digital technologies. Their use of these technologies, which make copyright infringement more difficult and facilitate the management of rights, is known as Digital Rights Management (DRM).

DRM tools can be used to mark digital works with copyright information. They can also be used to control the way in which a work can be used. For example, DRM can limit the number of copies that can be made of a work, can prevent changes from being made to a work, and can limit the devices on which a work can be enjoyed.
In other words, DRM makes a mockery of fair use.

And, “According to international laws, it is illegal to remove, change (alter), or get around (circumvent) DRM protection of a work.”

That’ll be news to a lot of people."

The book also says things like "Giving a classmate a copy of a CD you bought for yourself is illegal."

And Newton also says:

"Every one of the online sources is, of course, a hard-core, (bought-and-paid-for?) corporate entertainment industry-friendly web page.

Genuine information sites such as the Wikipedia, which provide un-spun, non-vested-interest, non-corporate information and points of view, are conspicuous by their total absence."

Not a big fan. I share Patry's and Newton's concerns.

Meanwhile in US and Canadian Otherworld land, the entertainment industry presses ahead with their standard approach to indoctrination targeting kids again.

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