Jane from Creative Commons sez, "It has come to our attention that the Motion Picture Association of America, the Recording Industry Association of America, and top internet service providers are drafting curriculum to teach kids in California elementary schools that copying is wrong, or as Wired.com puts it, 'Downloading is Mean!'
"This message is way too simple. In this digital age, the most important thing we should be teaching kids is to be creative and take full advantage of all the web has to offer. Copyright, asking permission, open licensing, and all the other legal nuances, should be seen as secondary (and even complementary) to this purpose. We should be starting with the things kids can do versus what they can't do."
In addition to the campaign's overly simple and negative approach, other issues include the complete absence of fair use from the curriculum -- exceptions and limitations to copyright that allow various uses of copyrighted materials for educational, journalistic and other purposes. Wired.com reports, 'Its president, Marsali Hancock, says fair use is not a part of the teaching material because K-6 graders don't have the ability to grasp it.'
Assuming the net generation and their younger counterparts are as dumb as assumed in the above statement, the curriculum still leaves out a crucial and growing part of the Internet landscape -- the commons of free and open materials in the public domain and/or released under open licenses that actually encourage copying, redistribution, revision, and remix! In short, everything this simplified anti-piracy campaign is conveniently leaving out in its copyright curriculum for kids.
There is a more balanced approach to educating kids about copyright that includes the alternatives, and here are some organizations and experienced educators who have developed copyright curricula. The following list of resources are open educational resources (OER), licensed under a CC license that enables free and legal reuse, redistribution and remix. In short, stuff that is free and just fine and even great to copy!
I write books. My latest is a YA science fiction novel called Homeland (it's the sequel to Little Brother). More books: Rapture of the Nerds (a novel, with Charlie Stross); With a Little Help (short stories); and The Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow (novella and nonfic). I speak all over the place and I tweet and tumble, too.