There’s no doubt about it, copyright in 2008 is a complicated thing. It’s no longer a black and white issue of simple right and wrong. Today there are lots of permutations of what is and isn’t legal. Teens see clips from Saturday Night Life on YouTube. If NBC was not the original poster of the content that should be illegal. But, because NBC might see the YouTube posting as a way to market their content, they sometimes look the other way. So, how is a teen to know what’s legal and what’s not legal when it comes to copyright?

A new report from Microsoft finds that when parents teach a teen about copyright the teen is more likely to pay attention. The report states:

Parents play a critical role for teens. Teens report their parents are their main source of information about what they can and cannot do online. Reinforcing the critical role of parents is the fact that some of the strongest deterrents to stealing and illegally sharing content are the thoughts of potential consequences.

Doesn’t this then mean that it’s up to librarians and other educators to help teach parents about copyright – what the rules are and how to find out about them? How do librarians do that? Will a workshop for parents on copyright work? Not necessarily, getting parents to come to a session on that topic might not be a big draw. But, what about:

  • Teens creating videos on copyright, posting those videos on YouTube, letting their parents know about the project?
  • The school and public library working together to provide materials and information to parents during open house events, parent teacher conferences, etc.?
  • A podcast interview with a local attorney that is geared to parents?

If we want teens to be smart about copyright we have to make sure that the adults in their lives are also smart about copyright.

The Microsoft report contains other interesting findings related to teen downloading of content, and what teens do and don’t know about the legal issues related to downloading. Check out the report. Start a discussion with the teens in your library. Do they agree with the report findings? Do they have questions about copyright. Find out what they have to say.

About Linda W Braun

Linda W Braun is a YALSA Past President, the YALSA CE Consultant, and a learning consultant/project management coordinator at LEO: Librarians & Educators Online.

One Thought on “New Study on Teens and Copyright

  1. maureen [Member] on February 15, 2008 at 1:52 pm said:

    I think it would be great to have information for parents available during school events like open house and parent/teacher conferences. My school district does an iSafe program every year, and copyright information would be somthing logical to include.

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