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New Microsoft copyright education initiative sounds neat-o!

Information Week is reporting on a new Microsoft initiative designed to convince young people of the serious consequences associated with copyright infringement. Microsoft recently conducted a series of studies and found that kids were less likely to violate copyright law (whether for software or digital media) if they were convinced of the potential for jail time and other criminal consequences.
Written by Christopher Dawson, Contributor on

Information Week is reporting on a new Microsoft initiative designed to convince young people of the serious consequences associated with copyright infringement. Microsoft recently conducted a series of studies and found that kids were less likely to violate copyright law (whether for software or digital media) if they were convinced of the potential for jail time and other criminal consequences.

As a result, their education initiative provides curricula for schools focusing on legal ramifications of copyright infringement and a new website for young people to learn more about relevant laws. As the article points out,

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."

Similarly,

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.

However, the article points to past failures by Microsoft and others to make copyright law accessible to young people. I can't say that I see any of my students looking for proxies to get them to MyBytes the way they do to get to MySpace. Will you use the Microsoft curriculum or website with your students?

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