From Benny Evangelista at SFGate: Parents start to rein in kids downloading music: Recording industry suits put a crimp in another teen pastime
And parents who have trouble enough dealing with teenagers and peer pressure now find themselves scrambling to understand the complexities of computer peer-to-peer programs and copyright law.
“None of this is instinctive, none of this makes sense,” said Parry Aftab, executive director of the nonprofit online safety group WiredSafety. “Copyright law makes even less sense than any other law out there, except tax law.
“But if you’re a parent, you can do this,” she said. “We need to be able to explain shoplifting to our kids, we need to explain drunk driving to our kids, we need to explain drug use to our kids, and now we need to explain to our kids that downloading is illegal.”
One measure of that groundswell of parental angst came last Tuesday, when Aftab appeared on appeared on NBC-TV’s “Today” show to publicize a new publication her organization had just posted, “Talking to Your Children About Downloading Music — A Parent’s Guide.” The free, 23-page guide is available for viewing or download on the organization’s Web site, www.wiredsafety.org.
Within a half-hour of her appearance, the guide was read or downloaded more than 60,000 times. And Parry, an attorney specializing in Internet security, child protection and privacy issues, saw the volume of her e-mail jump from about 400 per day to 2,500 per day.
Let’s take a look at the guide. I figured it would be awful, but I really didn’t expect that it would be THIS awful!! From the section called A Message from Jennifer…
A few years ago, the copyright laws were changed to catch kids and teens who were trading pirated software and other copyrighted computer games. Before the laws were changed, according to WiredKids’ Executive Director, cyberlawyer Parry Aftab, the criminal copyright laws required that someone receive money in exchange for the pirated materials.
After the recent updates, she said, “Now children and teens can be charged with criminal copyright infringement if they receive anything of value in exchange for the sharing of the copyrighted content. For example, if one teen exchanges a pirated videogame for a pirated software application, s/he has received something of value, and can now be charged with criminal activity.”
Interesting argument. Does this mean that all children should be scared sh*tless about the internet, or that there’s something terribly wrong with the way that the law is written? Do we really expect that there’s a single district attorney who’s going to prosecute under criminal statutes — and keep his job?
Here’s how you shoudl explain the Underlying Reason:
Instead, talk about plagiarizing a book report, or copying a video. These examples are more real to them. Then talk about the responsibility of famous brands and responsible companies to safeguard their products and maintain product quality standards. Discuss some famous brands and how they are owned by certain companies and are protected. (Would another restaurant’s food taste the same as McDonald’s if it used golden arches over its restaurant?)
Then talk about the lack of product quality on P2P. Many song files on P2P are contaminated with viruses and other malicious codes, and many are incomplete and low quality copies of the real recordings. Explain that the recording industry has to guarantee the quality of their products. Ask your kids how often they have had problems with the downloads, and ask them to share some horror stories they have heard about corrupted files and viruses from P2P. Ask them if it’s worth it. Then discuss the risk of RIAA’s legal attacks. Does that make a difference? Are your children worried about getting caught? Did they even realize that they were breaking the law?
Also, ask them to name a few famous recording artists (ones they like are better than others). Ask them how they think the recording artist is paid by the record company. Explain how many different entities and other people are involved in the making of a CD…the recording artists, the song writers, the arrangers, the backup singers, the band, the graphic artists for the album cover, the public relations and advertising agencies, the production company, the editors, the retailers, the shippers, the jewel case manufacturers, the printers, the CD manufacturers, etc. Then share how many people are employed by those companies and how their families rely on their income to live.
This is getting really scary — this is not education, this is sheer intimidation and training in corporate consumerism.! I really wonder if people are going to lie down and take this.
It’s clear that Parry Aftab has done great things. See also this Wired article on WiredSafety: Second Coming of Cyberangels. But this one is a little scary.