Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Politician Demands Propaganda Guide Pulled

A French depute of Paris has spoken out against the distribution of 450 000 copies of a guide called Music and Film: Adopt the Net Attitude in French schools. The guide, financed by the French government and private players like Vivendi Universal, pushes a vision of copyright law and file-sharing that can hardly be called objective, educational material (see this earlier post). Now Martine Billard has condemned the government for financially supporting and pushing the one-sided message of the entertainment industry and giving access to schools nation-wide:
[T]he only legal point of view on file-sharing present in this guide is that of the music and film industry. The government thus let private companies express their interpretation of the law with public means, while these same companies are parties in civil lawsuits whose outcome is not yet known. [T]he contents of this guide have more resemblance to publicity for the online sale sites than to a teaching document that explains the young Net surfers their rights and their duties in a neutral way. The republican school is not a place of propaganda for multinationals, and it does not rest with the political powers to anticipate decisions of court in a guide distributed on a large scale in school establishments. Martine Billard asks the government to cancel the distribution of this guide. [translation and italics mine-RL]
The question here is not if children may be educated in copyright issues, but who provides this education. Are children provided with a balanced view, or are they the target of lobying groups on either side of the copyright debate. Sadly it's easier to equate file-sharing with theft than teach the subtleties of fair use and copyright exemptions. More sadly governments and teachers are willing to open up the class rooms to propaganda camouflaged by cool language and cartoon mascots. Ideology should not finds it way into public schools, (industrial) information idelogy included.
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Statement Martine Billard (French)
Thru Music Reporter (French)


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