The recording industry has tried lots of things to keep people from copying their product and passing it around. So far threats, lawsuits, copy protection and assorted other ploys haven’t done much to stem the tide of downloading. The movie industry is scared that the same thing will happen to them (don’t look now but it IS happening to you) and is trying many of the same tactics. However, one new wrinkle in the battle is taking the message into the schools in the form of an ethics lesson.
Also, as early as next month the industry will begin promoting a "stealing is bad" message in schools, teaming up with Junior Achievement on an hour-long class for fifth through ninth graders on the history of copyright law and the evils of online file sharing. The effort includes games like Starving Artist, in which students pretend to be musicians whose work is downloaded free from the Internet, and a crossword puzzle called Surfing for Trouble.
I have serious doubts that anything like this is going to persuade kids not to trade digital files of anything they deem valuable. But more than that, this kind of hit-and-run teaching of morals in school has never worked. Either you weave a culture of ethics throughout the curriculum starting with Kindergarten or don’t bother. And it doesn’t have to involve religious training. There are basic tenants of honesty, respect and ethical behavior woven through most religions and, despite the screams that will come from some quarters at both ends of the political spectrum, they need to be part of every student’s education.