ESA Wants Access to Elementary Schools for Anti-piracy Message

October 3, 2007 -

Allowing lobbyists to push their agenda to kindergarten and elementary school kids?

What a pleasant thought...

Cnet reports that the Entertainment Software Association (ESA), which represents the interests of U.S. game publishers, would like to indoctrinate K-5 schoolchildren with the organization's anti-piracy message.

The news comes out of an anti-piracy summit in Washington, D.C. The event was hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce According to the Cnet story, the ESA's chief IP enforcer, Ric Hirsch, said:

In the 15- to 24-year-old (range), reaching that demographic with morality-based messages is an impossible proposition... which is why we have really focused our efforts on elementary school children. At those ages, children are open to receiving messages, guidelines, rules of the road, if you will, with respect to intellectual property.

The ESA has already developed a curriculum designed to teach copyright respect to the K-5's. Hirsch didn't reveal whether or not the organization has had any success in placing the program in schools.

GP: Let's hope not. While we certainly don't condone IP theft, allowing corporations to waste valuable classroom time to push their agenda is a disturbing concept.


Hmmm.... so whats next, they gonna advertise anti-war to pre-schoolers? Antidrug laws to infants in daycare? come on, just because theyre impressionable youth doesnt mean theyll understand what your trying to tell em. Hell, i got told not to do drugs in 2nd grade, and didnt even know what the hell they were talking about. I thought it was some kinda bad tasting candy or something.


I agree, there is not much they can really make children understand without giving them false notions about their actual legal choices. The wasted effort of teaching children this instead of say teaching them coding skills, or soldering skills is clear. If these kids felt that they would lose money off their own products or never see them find customers, they would be more likely to not pirate or at least look down upon it. However, this does not pop out of the head of an 8 year old. They want fun and excitement, something to make them forget that their end of grade tests are coming and if they fail their mother will beat them and they will have to stay back a year.

If anything, they should have a Panda mascot be telling the kids not to pirate. Not as a course but as a special event on one of the slow school days toward the end of the year, or on a weekend or after school. Maybe during the summer. Peter could be a pirating Panda bear that has learned his lesson after a long stay in prison, without TV or video games. China and Hong Kong have been huge sources of the pirate content that does most of the actual monetary damage to Nintendo and others as it is, so we might as well make sure of the natural flow your tongue feels when you say: "Protest Pirating with Peter the Panda, free Punch and Pie". The free punch and pie will get the kids/adults there even if it is held outside of school hours if we are to believe South Park. I only chose China as an example since Pandas are underused as mascots and they aren't exactly from other countries that traffic high numbers of pirate goods. The list would be long, but the mascots would not likely be as entertaining as a Panda IMO.

If they really wanted to show kids about piracy they would have the plastic smelling dogs make a trip around the country in a van, sort of like the Cherry Coke van where you could play Sega Genesis games at various events in the Summer when I was in NY. You could display seized discs, packaging, damaged consoles from improper chip installation/fire, whatever. It would surely show the kids how inferior the pirate product was and maybe make them like the idea of paying for games in the future instead of buying the cheap knockoffs or burns. Scare tactics yes, but also fun for everyone. Some free stuff, a game or two to be played, and a demonstration of why we should foot the money over for an actual game versus a bootleg one.

There is a way to do it so that you actually teach children that theft is wrong yet not cram it down their throats or sour them on wanting to learn to mod and tinker consoles or development their own software one day. Piracy in general is blamed for far too many things. Software companies blame it for lost sales when they wouldn't naturally have happened anyways, or just to rationalize why they laid off a bunch of tech workers to import cheaper labor or rely on outsourced contracts. Piracy is a more sensitive and complicated issue than their simple message can make it sadly. I just wish the lobbying groups and companies involved were more honest. They would win over a lot more fans and find allies they never knew they had.

As far as the Channel One argument goes, it's setting a precedent in that students were forced to watch a program, in school, that was 50% advertisements and funded by corperations. That is a big difference from say, television, where you can turn off the TV or change channels. It was a way for corporations to force their messages to students in a school setting, where the students could not have the option of ignoring the message or else they would (Back when I was in middle school at least) be punished.

The same thing applies here: corporations are paying money to get their messages pushed to children, and the children have no choice in the matter. Personally, I am against all forms of piracy and theft and am in possession of no copywrited materials that I did not pay for. I think that anti-piracy messages should be encouraged, but in appropriate situations (For example as mentioned earlier in a computer class) and CERTAINLY not sponsored by corperations in any way.

The fact that youshouldn't steal other people's property is something that is drummed into children from a very early age. What the ESA doesn't realise is that the people downloading stuff through various means KNOW that it is wrong and illegal, that is, in part, some of the attraction of doing it for young people, it's rebellious and gives them some degree of 'rep' among other kids.

The ESA going into schools would be to fulfill a corporate agenda, not a social one, and would serve only to increase awareness of the fact that Piracy means you can get stuff for 'free'. If the ESA thinks that Pirates aren't aware of the risks involved with it, then they've obviously been totally ignoring the actions of the MPAA and RIAA whilst emulating them.

Teach children not to steal, not to lie etc, that's something that is the responsibility of the whole of society, but don't make special cases for IP, that, in itself, puts an emphasis on it, not only increasing awareness, but making physical theft look 'less bad' than IP theft. The odds are that making children aware of Piracy will increase it, not decrease it.

I have no trust for corporations and companies, but this is kind of a personal low for me with regards to the gaming industry.

@ Pandralisk
Wow, can you actually function without bashing religion? Your whole post was good until the last quip you just had to put in there about religion. WTF Nobody want to hear it, not me even and I don't agree with religion either, your just making those kind of people look like idiots and bigots.

[...] Cnet reports on the Entertainment Software Association’s “copyright education curriculum geared toward the kindergarten through fifth-grade set.” Game Politics, a blog run by the , calls the idea “disturbing,” and further notes that “ESA president Michael Gallagher has come out strongly in favor” of the DMCA. [...]


Ugh. And to think I have Hal Haplin on my friends list on facebook.

Damn corporations.

Disregard above statement. It's early and I'm tired.

Scary stuff..

Like the saying goes: "Give me the boy's first seven years and I will give you the man"

As a class in itself this is a bit of a waste but certainly CD/DVD/Videogame piracy should be included in lessons about right and wrong in general.


This... IS... PIRACY!

What a horrific precedent to set, if this is allowed...

I 2nd what Paul Cosgrove said

Just because some organizations are having even minor success in forcing religion upon school children doesn't mean corporations should get in on the act.

Sheez! Just ask that computer programming classes incorporate it into their specific subjects.

(Kinda like wanting scientific ethics taught to high schoolers in science classes. Whadda ya mean they don't? It's a good place to put it!)

NW2K software
Nightwng2000 NW2K Software Nightwng2000 is now admin to the group "Parents For Education, Not Legislation" on MySpace as

If you ask me this would be just another kind of child abuse. A crass comment, I know. But nothing defindes a human more than what he learns in younger years. Manipulating children is nothing short of disgusting.

@Paul Cosgrove:

This is precedent? I thought Channel One would be the precedent.

This sounds like a job for... CAPTAIN COPYRIGHT!

Indeed, my day has become a little more disturbed.

This is rather, erm, sickening...?
Yes, sickening is the word.

One problem is here that very likely the message that tinkering isn't OK may be drove home. If these kids are mortally afraid of ICE men barging into their windows at night because they misunderstand the message, say they fall under the notion borrowing a game from a friend is an offense punishable by jail time, a lot of children could well be taught to give up their technical luxuries.

As it stands now, because of the bad apples misusing modchips, those with valid reasons to own them are now criminals. Telling me that I cannot have a modchip to circumvent company X's IDIOTIC localization schemes is something I will teach my eventual children to never accept. Company X decides to pull region lockout when it suits them (to save money), but the rest of the time you have to do acrobatics to play Japanese titles and just about forget the notion of ever playing any PAL titles.

We are able to mod our cars and PCs, we should be able to mod our consoles and iPhones. The sad thing is, a CDR or DVD+R may be the only way to play unreleased games in the future, as we see with Thrill Kill and naturally homebrew software. If people do use said mods for theft, go ahead and slam them. Selling someone else's work is below the level of scumbag in my mind. However, if Joe Gamer is within their actual rights, get the hell out of the living room and local schools.

I understand the notion they are trying to uphold here, but it actually weakens a customer's love for the company, and in the end their monetary support. I will never buy an iPhone for the way they are treating those who unlock it, and I will never use the AT&T network willingly. Some of the logic fueling this move by the ESA is the same horrible shite that the RIAA is trying to convince the courts of: "Oh, you bought a CD? Nice. But, it is illegal to use that CD as you want for personal use! Nope, you have no rights to switch the medium. You have to pay us a second time for that right so we can give you inferior audio quality. Thank you sucker!"

Can you tell this makes me sick to my stomach? :)

My high school made me watch that crap, at least our teacher put it on mute.

Thing is, you let one lobbyist group into the school, others would want to start their own campaigns, if nothing else to combat what the other guy said. Let's not turn homeroom into Hardball now. Schools are for learning, period.


I'm with you. :( Sickening about describes it. I was having an amazing week too! Got two Famiclones for $6.50 over the weekend, then got some thrift bits yesterday and was told last night I was to be given a top loading NES for helping out a friend with his PC problems. I will not let the ESA ruin my picking-up-a-top-loading-NES-2-so-I-can-now-play-some-PAL-carts-day
though they managed to ruin my breakfast.


How is Channel One precedent for this? That's a news program, this is the ESA wanting to waste class time on manipulating kids in regards to piracy.

And to think the ESA used to be our friends...

I'm not going to get into the morality of intellectual property theft, fair use, or the First Sale Doctrine. School is about educating the next generation of scientists, engineers, doctors,etc. It is NOT about the brainwashing of the next generation of consumers, sheep, or yes-men. Politics have no business in classrooms, least of all in in kindergarten to 5th grade!

There is a special place in hell for lawyers, politicians, and insurance companies.

I would not send my son to any school where they let the ESA command part of the curriculum. I'd Homeschool him first.

Because Channel One isn't exactly neutral and was brought into schools with funding bribes.

This will work about as well as the D.A.R.E program. Seriously, how many kids by the time they get to high school do you think they program influenced to not do drugs? 1%? Hell, even that's probably generous. I know when I was in elementary school I had D.A.R.E from fourth to sixth grade and by seventh (and before even) kids were getting busted for drinking, smoking, having pot among other things.


Uhhh, many schools are already like that, our government funded schools pretty much do what they can to keep us stupid, unimaginative idiots. All they want to do is meet their dumbed down state/federal testing requirements. It's sad that 50 years ago the high school curriculum was harder in many subject than it is now.

DARE and Captain Copyright are utter failures because they are dishonest. DARE lies outright. Captain Copyright fails to inform children of their rights and tries to assume more rights as content owners than they actually possess with the insane restrictions they placed on their educational material.

Educating children about drugs and copyright are great ideas. So home come instead we have DARE and CC?

And how exactly was Channel One not neutral? I mean, I remember that their stories tended to lean to one side or the other depending on the reporter and they always their yearly stories on sex, drugs, AIDS, etc., but that's still a far cry from setting a precedent for this.

it's bad enough No Child Left Behind allows recruiters unfettered access to all children, let's not give the same to Big Business.

I also thought of DARE as I read this.

Honestly, I don't think it's a bad idea to inform kids that PIRACY is bad. The way copyright law is being abused is also terrible, but let's face it, there ARE plenty of people out there who ruin it for us by abusing their own abilities to obtain illegal software.

That said, Kindergarten is a pretty ridiculous age to's not going to do anything.

"Let’s hope not. While we certainly don’t condone IP theft, allowing corporations to waste valuable classroom time to push their agenda is a disturbing concept."

You took the words right out of my mouth Dennis.

@Austin Lewis

Homeschool him so he can learn how to solder, code NES games, and other fun stuff eh? That would be the life.

This reminds me of something the MPAA tried to do back in 2003 involving collaborating with Junior Achievement regarding piracy:

It disgusted me back then, it disgusts me now. Kids should not be on the receiving end of corporate propaganda in their schools, they should be LEARNING.

Propaganda in the classroom. Gotta love it.

Ooo! I can't wait until this shows up on standardized tests, and we're comparing on how well US schoolchildren due on IP infringement vs how well Canadian children do- finally we'll start being in the head of the class again!

This is not needed. I understand that the ESA wants to prevent piracy, but this is not the way. Schools have enough problems, let's not add to that.

Better to take out ads in game and software magazines, banners on tech sites, and have a few television commercials on G4 or whatever channel they like. This is a waste and bad publicity.

That is absurd. I was under the impression that business ethics wasn't taught in elementary school.

I thought that Don't Copy That Floppy was intended to be played in classrooms.

Yeah, toss me in with the "corporate agendas have no place in the class room" crowd. Corporate lobby definitions of what constitutes "piracy" and "stealing" more often than not toss fair use and first sales out the window in favor of profit. To allow them to warp the views of children with their anti-consumer propaganda is criminal.

Yes copying of media, particularly digital media is a problem for corporations, but the answer isn't giving them a hand in raising our kids. Particularly as most copying is either in response to various industry's failures to provide consumers with the content they desire at a price that is reasonable, or done by people that could not afford to buy the content in any case.

Anyone else seen IT Crowd's take on the anti-piracy message?

And yes, I realize the irony of posting an anti-piracy parody that was pirated and copied to YouTube... ;)
-- If your wiimote goes snicker-snack, check your wrist-strap...

@Sean Wallitsch

To be honest with regard to public education in America, every day they sit in the classroom is a bit of propaganda. Socialization and district creeds aside, history itself is a bit of a whopper. Most schools present this image of the the Pilgrims to children that is totally misleading and incomplete. A lot of our history as a country is misrepresented or downplayed by the textbooks they wield in their Spongebob backpacks. Children are said not to understand the abstract concepts until later on, but their notion that the Pilgrims were merely the good guys wanting a new home is pretty disturbing as well.

I say this recalling the lessons from several schools districts around the country. Some schools presented the material more fairly, but most of the time the Indians were not painted as truthfully as they could have been. It is better in some places now, but that itself is a type of propaganda. I used this example since ten of the Mayflower Compact signers are my ancestors so I always had a lot of guilt growing up. Myles Standish may have helped keep the Pilgrims alive but some of what went down was pretty sick. Just like the plague blankets to come later. Ugh.

I guess in reality we need to dissect ALL the messages we give to children and be motivated to change things, not just voice concerns in regard to copyright and intellectual property videos. Education needs to be a strong focus of our country and its resources, not foreign wars and/or stealing the resources (people, natural, intellectual property) of other nations. If we don't smarten up our youth, we are going to really lose whatever advantages our country gives us. However, maybe that is the way things are meant to be and we shall be colonized the same as we have in the past. As we buff up our education systems maybe we will train better teachers and less of the sickos who take advantage of the profession or couldn't teach themselves out of a wet paper bag.


The IT Crowd is a RIOT. I love that show. The episode that message came from is especially good since it has not only zombie movies in it, but a cello-playing Cannibal. Talk about being up on current events and popular culture. There are so many great references in there, the z80 included. Straight from the opening animation you get a sense the show is worth your time. Richard Ayoade's other work is pretty good as well.

Here, let me sum up their entire curriculum:

Don't pirate stuff.

The end.


Yeah, that's why I'm almost afraid to watch the US premiere. Even though it has Moss, it just won't be the same without a raging Irish IT guy... The brit jokes just don't work in a US context.

So hopefully the UK version keeps going strong.
-- If your wiimote goes snicker-snack, check your wrist-strap...

Schools are a great place to start the whole support of copyright crusade. When I was in elementary schools we were shown tons of movies with the warning "For private home use only" in it.

But I fail to grasp how they will accomplish this. Kids don't understand copying. I guess what they really want is for the kids to rat on their parents when their parents are pirating stuff.

Indoctrinating kids to be stool pigeons. :)


Yeah...I am not looking forward to it either. The two series of The Office in the UK were much different and more entertaining than the US version. The US one has a different flavor I can enjoy, but not all the time. Most everything they converted into US shows using Brit originals I cannot watch much of. Leaving out the Irish fella is just wrong. :( The proposed Father Ted US version has me shaking from fear nearly, as no one will be able to make a show like that under its name ever again. RIP Father Ted. I mean, look how the US pilots for Red Dwarf turned out. *shudders*

They already waste enough time in the classrooms with cramming for stupid tests in an attempt to look good; let's waste more time.

I have no issue with kids learning about copyright law in school, though at a reasonable grade level, educational, fair, balanced, LEGAL.

That said, this automatically excludes any involvement by businesses that thrive upon IP.

What is the first sale doctrine? "It means things are only legal to be sold once, by us."
What is Fair Use? "Your private use on the media we sell it to you."
Can we make one copy? "You mean can you steal it once? No."
What about backups? "Hacking, Bypassing Security, AND first theft? Long live the DCMA! Hail DCMA!"
Isn't theft the wrong word to use? "Theft is how we define it, not the law."
Can I play a foreign game? "Only if you buy a foreign TV, Game console, copy of the game, and swear to rebuy the game if there is a domestic release any time in the future."

Obviously these are not exactly the questions that will be asked, or how they will be answered, and the ESA seems to have SOME indication some of these things are the wrong stances. However, if the ESA gets in, what is to stop the RIAA, MPAA, or any other group from extending the lessons, until the class on copyright law becomes "This is a IP. Only way you can use it is to pay us 60$. If you do not pay us 60$ you are pirating. No exceptions for borrowing or renting. No exceptions ever. Any questions? You? You fail."

Ah maybe my outlook is just to bleak.
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