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Intellectual property issues to be taught in the classroom

15 December 2004

Don’t know much about history. Don’t know much biology. Don't know much about a science book. Don't know much about the French I took… The immortal words of Sam Cooke there in his famous call for reform in the American public school system. But it turns out that amongst British school kids there’s an even bigger knowledge gap – they don’t know much about intellectual property.  

But help is at hand. According to BBC News Online, 11 to 14 year olds are to be taught lessons on music piracy and copyright in order to understand the consequences of file sharing and CD piracy.

British Music Rights (BMR), an industry body which represents the interests of composers, songwriters and music publishers, has worked with ‘education experts’ to produce a ‘learning pack’ discussing copyright and other intellectual property issues.

The pack, which has already been requested by 1600 secondary schools, is aimed at giving children an understanding of copyright in relation to the music industry, and by a happy coincidence for BMR it will also hopefully make children think twice before they download the new McFly album. Unless of course like so many other well-intentioned initiatives it actually makes them want to rebel and actually download more illegal music.

But it’s not just about piracy – the pack also contains background information on how to make it in the music business. Speaking at the launch of the scheme, songwriter and friend-of-Robbie Williams, Guy Chambers said “I think it is important that young people receive practical and engaging learning in schools… These lessons will give them an insight into how the creative industries work which will help them in possible future careers."

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