Sunday, May 16, 2010

But Everybody Does It!

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Here is the Copyright Challenge I promised readers. To read the full article scroll down below the quiz. Enjoy!

The Copyright Challenge

Read each scenario and then decide if the person featured is making the “right” choice when it comes to copyright law protection. Suggest that you spend time talking about this with your child.

1. A friend gets a new CD and wants you to enjoy listening to it too. The friend makes you a copy. She keeps her copy and continues to listen to it. Is this ethical?

2. You love your new CD of your favorite band. You want to protect it and decide to make a copy of it for your own use. You make the copy and put the original in a safe place in your home. Is this ethical?

3. You made a video and you want to upload a song from your favorite band as background. Is this ethical?

4. All your friends in your tight-knit circle have seen the new movie and all love the sound track. You buy one copy of the soundtrack and decide to download it on all their MP3 players. They’ve all paid for the movie so everything is okay, right? Is this ethical?

5. You borrow a movie from the library. You decide to show it to your friends. You invite them over and you have popcorn and sodas as you watch the movie. When you are done, you return the movie to the library. Is this ethical?

Answers to Copyright Law Challenge:

1. No. Making a copy and sharing it with someone else is a copyright law violation.

2. Yes. Only the person who purchases the CD has the right to download to their MP3 player or to burn a copy for personal use.

3. No. In some cases you can be penalized, if discovered. Although some companies are now allowing this to happen in exchange for the advertising it brings them. If you take this risk, it is just that…a risk.

4. No. Paying to see the movie and paying for the sound track of the movie are two different things. Support the artists and purchase the CD! Downloading the CD to everyone’s MP3 player is a violation of copyright laws.

5. Yes. You are using the library as it is intended.

Article: But Everybody Does It!

Many people do not take copyright law seriously. Not only children think it is perfectly okay to rip a CD of the latest movie sound track or their favorite band—adults do, too.

In March, I chaired a conference for an organization known for its educational, self-development and pain management CDs. On the agenda we included a Q&A about ethical behavior concerning copyright laws. Why did we have to do this? Because we had discovered that many thought it was okay to share CDs or MP3 files without paying for the right to use them.

We asked questions like:

1. Your group borrows a CD from the library. You want everyone to have a copy. You make 10 copies and pass them out at the next gathering. Is this ethical?

2. You give a member one of your commercially purchased CDs. You did not make any copies and are giving it as a gift. Is this ethical?

The exercise helped participants have a better grasp of what is legal when it comes to sharing music or proprietary materials. It’s an exercise that you might wish to pursue with your children. So that you don’t have to create your own questions, I have a provided a list of questions at

Here’s the deal. Copying and sharing the music or work of others is a violation of copyright laws. It is, in fact, stealing.

Some of the confusion for our children might stem from the fact that computer programs exist on the web to help children and adults download music for free. Just because a company provides this service doesn’t make it legal.

And not all music, movie and other industries are just letting people get away with this. Although the music industry seems to have stopped targeting individuals for the time being, they did go after and sue approximately 35,000 people in 2008. One of those individuals “caught” happened to work about 10 minutes away from my home. His payout was in the six-figure range.

Although the music industry is taking a new course of action, it appears independent film makers are targeting the individual.

In March, over 20,000 people have been sued in Washington, DC federal court for copyright infringement. According to the sources of Hollywood Reporter, Eriq Gardner, there are another 30,000 downloaders who are about to be served. Gardner reports in his article (March 30, 2010): “This could be a test run that opens up the floodgates to massive litigation against the millions of individuals who use BitTorrent to download movies.”

What is the law when it comes to copyright? Math and Reading Help for Kids, endorsed by the American Library Association, explains: “The law states that no one may reuse music (or any copyrighted material) without permission from the material's owner. The exception to this is what is known as 'fair use.'”

Reporters, researchers and educators fall under this ‘fair use’ definition and can reuse copyright material as long as they give credit to the owner.

There is a way to download music legally and for little cash. Several on-line sites have offerings that are legal because of licensing agreements. Math and Reading Help for Kids provided the following lists: Apple's iTunes, Napster,,, PressPlay, RealOne Music, and

Copyright protection for artists, writers, musicians, filmmakers and others is a big deal. We will do ourselves, our children and all those artists a favor if we take copyright infringement seriously. Caregivers, teachers and grandparents, please take the time to download and give the Copyright Quiz to the children and adults in your life.

Allyn Evans
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