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Hollywood Plugs Into 36,000 Us Classrooms
By Jon Newton,
(more articles from this author)
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As part of its attempt to thwart online p2p file sharing, Hollywood is pumping anti-piracy messages to 900,000 students through a program that's being "integrated" into more than 36,000 classrooms across America.

Using American schools as unpaid business reps is nothing new for Hollywood. The RIAA, the MPAA's counterpart in the music industry, has already enveigled universities across the US into acting as direct sales outlets for the Big Five record labels.

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Now the MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) is employing Junior Achievement Inc to carry the message, which will in effect be delivered free over the next two years to children in grades five to nine via volunteer teachers.

Nearly 20,000 MPAA classroom kits have already been distributed.

"The primary goal of the program, which includes introductory information on copyrights, hands-on, interactive classroom activities and take-home materials, is to help students understand that illegally downloading or duplicating copyrighted material is no different than walking into a store and stealing it," says Junior Achievement.

"We think it's a critical group to be having this conversation with," MPAA spokesman Rich Taylor is quoted as saying in a Fox News story.

On top of that, starting today MPAA boss Hack Valenti's hoary 'public service' announcements saying file sharing threatens the livelihood of Hollywood employees such as prop-people and carpenters are once again being released to approximately 5,000 cinemas across the States.

Whether or not these Hollywood school programs address issues such as fair use isn't mentioned.

"This is really sounding like Soviet-style education," Fox quotes EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) lawyer Wendy Seltzer as saying. "First they're indoctrinating the students and then having students indoctrinate their peers."

Junior Achievement is offering students DVD players, DVD movies, theater tickets and all-expenses-paid trips to Hollywood for winning essays about the illegalities of file-sharing, the story goes on. "Teachers, too, can win prizes for effectively communicating the approved message in class."

Melinda Anderson, a spokeswoman for the National Education Association, the says it's unsettling when corporate presence in the classroom is tethered to sponsored incentive programs.

"What it speaks to is kind of a new era in commercialism emerging in classrooms where the attempts to connect with students are becoming more and more sophisticated. Schools that are often strapped for cash are more tempted to partner with these organizations," Fox has Anderson saying.

"Coming from school, these companies are getting a tacit endorsement for their product," Anderson said. "That's not a school's role to be the purveyors."

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