You heard that right, 3rd grade. I'll get back to that later.
First, I'll look at what's totally wrong with this activity guide.
The activities for elementary and middle school students are identical save the tools used, but that's besides the point. Now I only need to do half the ranting!
What in the name of Kanye West is that?
It's a term the RIAA made up for the express purpose of furthering this activity. It has no other meaning outside of this context.
Next, those numbers are way off. It certainly does not cost the music industry over $7 million in lost sales due to copyright violations, and even if it did, it makes so much more money from actual sales that it doesn't really matter.
Next, who is affected by songlifting?
It's really just the RIAA. The truth is, if people are given a listen to a song, they are more likely to actually go out and buy the CD by themselves. Even otherwise, the CDs generate positive publicity which will reflect positively upon the artists in concerts and such. Only the recording industry is hurt, and they want to shout that out.
Next, draw the copyright symbol (©) on the chalkboard. Ask if students know what this symbol means and where they might have seen it (books, posters, CDs, etc.). Explain that the copyright symbol is used to identify the owner of a piece of intellectual property and serves as a reminder that it is illegal for anyone to copy or distribute that property without the owner’s permission. Students should understand that copyright law automatically protects intellectual property whether or not it is marked with the copyright symbol. You might also inform them that our nation’s Founders included copyright protection in the U.S. Constitution (Article I, Section 8), believing that it would encourage creativity by giving the creators of intellectual property an exclusive right to profit from their artistic talents.This preceding quote is possibly my favorite part because it's the least correct. Here's something I suggest: Richard Stallman, Linus Torvalds, and Larry Lessig should all go around the country to different schools and draw the copyleft (intentionally the horizontal mirror-image of the copyright symbol) and ask them what it means. It's pretty well known in the freedomware (I'm gonna start using that term as a less ambiguous synonym of free software/software libre) community, which seems to be a mutual antagonist of industries like the RIAA. I'm pretty sure not too many teachers would get it either. Why should the RIAA be forcing copyright down 3rd-graders' throats?
Most importantly is my beef with the term intellectual property. I'll say it here, and it largely reflects the views of people like Stallman and Lessig.
Intellectual property is a near-farce.
That's right, it's a near-farce.
It's not totally a farce because initially, other people should not take credit for someone's work. However, intellectual "property" is not like physical property in that when someone else takes it, the original owner does not lose it. If I take your table, you are now minus one table. However, if I take your design for a table and tweak it a bit, you still have your original design. I will expand more upon this only if you ask me to elaborate on a specific point.
Furthermore, this interpretation of copyright completely ignores fair use. Fair use is the use of an author's work for free without the author's permission, and can be done if the author explicitly gives such permission or implicitly does so by letting a copyright or patent expire. Many artists do this in that they give away their songs for free on the interwebs. The RIAA, of course, collectively sticks its fingers in its ears and starts screaming like a siren when it hears the words "fair use".
Also, my other beef with copyright law is the term itself. It used to be that one had an exclusive copyright of 14 years with a possibility of one renewal, making a maximum total of 28 years; this has increased to 95 years. Also, before, the burden of making the copyright was on the author; now, for whatever reason, this is automatic. The former terms were implied in the Constitution and were explicitly stated in contemporaneous laws. I find it ironic that the RIAA uses the word "believes" to refer to the Framers' desire to encourage creativity through limited copyrights; then again, the RIAA makes no mention of an originally limited copyright.
Yup, the RIAA has a lot wrong in that one paragraph.
The next activity just strengthens that.
So the RIAA basically wants children to know that they must bow to its demands, and that fair and free use do not exist (and neither should limited copyrights with burden on the holder). More to the point, "piracy" is explicitly mentioned twice (in different word forms) while "fair use" is never even implied.
But my bigger problem is, why are they doing this to children?
Middle school students are fine candidates for this because they are just getting into mp3 players, CD mixes, online file sharing, and that sort of stuff. They should know about copyright law, but it should not be exclusively from one point of view; they should know both points of view and have the ability to decide between the two.
More importantly, though, is that elementary schoolers have much fewer, if any, such interests. They aren't as much into technology and probably have no idea what such things as file sharing are. So why does the RIAA feel the need to pursue such indoctrination?
I guess it's because they think it's best to get them while they're young.
But that's just wrong.
Teachers, please use some common sense and don't let private industries control public education like this.