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Film group backs antipiracy curriculum for schools

Jose Luis Gutierrez | E+ | Getty Images

When it comes to learning about the evils of Internet piracy, Hollywood studios and the major music labels want kids to start young.

A nonprofit group called the Center for Copyright Information has commissioned a school curriculum to teach elementary-age children about the value of copyrights.

The curriculum, still in draft stage, includes lesson plans, videos and activities for teachers and parents to help educate students about the "importance of being creative and protecting creativity," with topics such as "Respect the Person: Give Credit," "It's Great to Create," and "Copyright Matters."

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The nonprofit is backed by the Motion Picture Association of America, the Recording Industry Association of America and others, the Los Angeles Times reported Monday.

Some critics say the curriculum, called "Be a Creator," would promote a biased agenda. Others contend it would use up valuable classroom time when public schools already are struggling to teach the basics.

"While it's certainly a worthy topic of discussion with students, I'm sure some teachers would have a concern that adding anything of any real length to an already packed school day would take away from the basic curriculum that they're trying to get through now," Frank Wells, spokesman for the California Teachers Association, told the newspaper.

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The MPAA blames the illegal distribution of movies and TV shows for causing billions of dollars annually in lost revenue. The trade group has tried various tactics over the years to fight the problem, from filing lawsuits against college students who illegally downloaded movies to backing ill-fated federal laws that would shut down rogue websites.

The program is being prepared by the California School Library Association and the Internet Keep Safe Coalition, known as iKeepSafe, a nonprofit focused on helping children thrive in the digital environment. The group partners with educators, law enforcement agencies and major corporations, including Google, Comcast (which owns CNBC's parent company NBC Universal) and AT&T.

The MPAA declined to comment and referred calls to the Center for Copyright Information, which is also working with iKeepSafe on the curriculum.

Jill Lesser, the center's executive director, said the curriculum has not been approved.

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"It's unfortunate this got out because we were nowhere near done," she told the newspaper.

Lesser told a House subcommittee in September that she hoped the curriculum would be tested as a pilot program in California in the current academic year, and eventually be adopted at schools nationwide, the Times reported.

—By The Associated Press

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