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MPAA, Junior Achievement to Reach Kids on Downloading

16 Oct, 2003 By: Holly J. Wagner

Junior Achievement is adding a Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA)-funded course teaching students about copyrights to its curriculum this year and expects the program to reach 900,000 middle-grade students with a message opposing illegal file-trading activity.

The “What's the Diff?” program, funded by an MPAA grant, is designed to teach “responsible digital citizenship” and help youngsters understand the impact illegally downloading or duplicating copyrighted material has on them, artists and the economy as a whole.

The program is being integrated into Junior Achievement's business ethics programs this fall, with the potential to reach 900,000 students in grades 5 through 9 in more than 36,000 classrooms nationwide over the course of the academic year. Nearly 20,000 classroom kits have been distributed since they became available on Oct. 1.

The program includes introductory information on copyrights, hands-on, interactive classroom activities and take-home materials. A key element of the program will be a nationwide contest that asks students to create a message that “convinces their peers that file-swapping is not only illegal, but fundamentally wrong,” according to a Junior Achievement statement.

More than 750 prizes will be awarded to those entries deemed most effective, creative and practical by a panel of judges drawn from Junior Achievement, the motion picture studios, the recording industry and other copyright industries.

“Respecting the intellectual property rights of others is not only the legal thing to do, it's the right thing to do,” said David Chernow, president and CEO of Junior Achievement. “Young people face a lot of ethical challenges these days, and improper use of the Internet is one of them. Illegally downloading copyrighted materials hinders our economy and stunts the ethical development of our future workforce.”

The curriculum, designed by Junior Achievement's Education department, aims to help students understand and respect the value of copyright protection throughout all of the copyright industries. The program provides an overview of copyright protection, including its history, economic and social benefits, and the potential consequences of ignoring copyrights, a Junior Achievement spokesman said.

A recent Gallup Poll found that 83 percent of teens ages 13 to 17 found downloading free music morally acceptable.

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