I don't know if I should be embarrassed or proud to admit that I have been around long enough in the educational technology field that I actually remember the 1992 classic video, "Don't Copy That Floppy" from the Software & Information Industry Association's (SIIA). That was back in the Stone Age when copy protection was in its infancy and copying floppies was done by many folks with little or no thought to the ethical and legal issues of duplicating copyrighted materials like software. Heck, in those days some people actually thought making endless copies was somehow legal, just like today many students seem to think that everything on the Internet is free for them to use without a citation or Fair Use consideration.
Of course, then and now, that kind of "free lunch" is only some kind of urban myth. The copyright laws are alive and well, but unfortunately for those in the creativity business, piracy is at an all time high. To help combat piracy, and all of its less than savory cousins like plagiarism, the SIIA has reincarnated their video, aptly calling it "Don't Copy That 2 - School Version." Its' purpose is to help generate a discussion of digital theft and the importance of respecting the creative output of others with your students.
What SIIA knows well, from their first version of this video, is if you want to reach kids you need to combine music and a good storyline. In this case much of action revolves around a young hacker, who in real life is in jail for piracy (the interviews actually happen in the prison). On the other side is the equally youthful SIIA intern who caught him. It is tale of intrigue that will certainly grabs kids' attention. After delivering the compelling "Tale of Two Techies," complete with a bit of rap, SIIA also provides lesson plans for middle and high school students, a glossary, and variety of other resources for educators trying to evoke a meaningful, and perhaps even life-saving, discussion of the complex and important concepts surrounding piracy and copyrights and what can happen to a young person who breaks the rules.
With many kids perceiving piracy as a "victimless" crime, this video and the accompanying free materials also places students in the shoes of artists, authors and other creators so they may better understand how it feels when someone spends long hours creating something valuable, only to see it being stolen. Since the model for how businesses are going to make money for the creativity they generate online - everything from books to music to movies and so much more - is still up for grabs, this can be one of the most important long-term lessons you can review with your students. That's in part because until someone comes up with a fool proof model for generating income off materials posted on the Internet, especially without fear of them being copied wholesale, we are going to continue to see some materials withheld from online delivery and online delivery costs padded against the collateral damage caused by piracy.
Take a look at "Don't Copy It 2." It may kick-off the most important 21st Century discussion you have with your students all year.