Saturday, October 11, 2014

Citizens should have lessons in copyright morals and ethics

MP for Hove Actually Mark Weatherley, who somehow has been entrusted with advising David Cameron on matters relating to intellectual property, wants kids to be taught copyright morality in schools:

In a 51-page report that was just released Weatherley stresses the importance of copyright awareness and education, especially for the younger generation. This is needed as respect for copyright has declined in recent years and some even believe that sharing copyrighted material without permission is not a big deal.

“There is … a certain level of tolerance for the idea that IP infringements could be considered legitimate. Some believe that illegal activity online is a social norm, with no moral implications,” Weatherley writes.

“We are at risk of an entire generation growing up with different levels of respect for IP and copyright in particular. Should this social contract disappear, there could be longer-term consequences beyond the immediate, short-term negative impacts experienced by the creative sector,” he adds.
We would quote some chunks of his report, but, hey, let's respect the guy's right to be wrong in private, yes?

The idea of schools having honest education about the morality and ethics of the copyright industry isn't all bad - getting teenagers to explore the reasons why copyright used to expire after a sensible period, and debating the consistent push back of that expiration as MPs like Weatherley do the bidding of multinational corporations could make for lively lessons and an aware populace.

However, what Weatherley is actually suggesting isn't that the ethics and morality of the copyright industry be taught at all; he just wants lessons based on that awful thing they make you watch at the start of DVDs.

Sidenote: Mike Weatherley, besides being an MP, has found time in his busy routine to be director of a bunch of companies associated with MPLC, a company that exists to "help" people with copyright licences. You might think that this exciting hinterland means that Weatherley is something of an expert in the field, which he is sharing with the rest of the coalition. Equally, though, you might wonder if this means he might not have started his report with the most open of minds.