Thursday, February 14, 2008

Microsoft encourage teens to think of jail time for copyright

It seems Microsoft has been spreading the message amongst teens that they will go to jail if they don't put a stop their piratic habits.

It's not clear whether Microsoft's statement to teen respondents -- "When you do not follow these rules you are open to significant fines and possibly jail time" -- is entirely accurate, particularly when teens under the age of 18 are involved. Emily Berger, an intellectual property fellow at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, is skeptical. "I think it's being used as a scare tactic," she said. "It's a real stretch of the law to say it's theoretically possible."

Nevertheless, Microsoft wants to correct teens' woeful ignorance. To do so, it has turned to Topics Education, a developer of custom curricula, to create a curriculum called "Intellectual Property Rights Education" for middle school and high school teachers. The Microsoft-sponsored curriculum consists of Web-based resources and case-study driven lesson plans that aim to engage students about intellectual property issues.

To support its teachings, Microsoft has launched MyBytes, a Web site where students can create custom ringtones, share content -- "their own content," as Microsoft makes clear -- and learn more about intellectual property rights.

The irony of a convicted monopolist preaching to teenagers about breaking the law is unlikely to be lost in the commentary from the usual suspects. Thanks to Michael Geist for the pointer.

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