long-term consequences of weak respect for intellectual property rights. Education may assist here as well. Others might be persuaded to curb infringing activities if copyright education led to increased social or peer sanctions against infringement. Even modest results would be useful: It would be a step in the right direction if people started thinking about the legality of their actions before making unauthorized copies of protected works. However, the committee is not suggesting that copyright education is likely to influence directly the behavior of commercial pirates, who understand that their behavior is illegal. Finally, although the committee concludes that copyright education would be widely beneficial, this specific recommendation is targeted to the United States.
Because people tend to obey laws that they understand and think fundamentally fair and sound, copyright education should be based on the fundamental fairness and soundness of intellectual property law. A program of copyright education should describe the core goal of IP lawthe improvement of society through advancement of knowledge by encouraging the creation and distribution of a wide array of works. The program should point out that, in the long term, all IP becomes a part of the shared heritage, universally available. In addition, the program should describe the basic means for achieving this goaltime-limited monopoliesand the rationale for providing them (i.e., as a way to provide an incentive to creators, yet ensure that all the fruits of their efforts are eventually disseminated widely). The educational program must communicate these points in a direct, jargon-free manner.
Although intellectual property in general and digital IP in particular are fraught with controversy, several basic principles can be communicated usefully with clear-cut examples. For instance, the basic exclusive rights of copyright, such as reproduction, sale, and public performance, make it clear that reproducing and distributing complete copies of a work (e.g., a computer program) is illegal, even if it is only one copy that is given free to a friend. The program should also note that ease of copying or the risks of detection do not affect the legality of an infringing act, and should perhaps emphasize the role of ethics rather than punishment.
The program should also describe the limits on IP rights by including an introduction to fair use and other limiting principles of copyright and describing their role in accomplishing the larger purpose of the law. The program should acknowledge that fair uses can be made of copyrighted works but that not all private, noncommercial copies are fair uses.
An additional focus may be provided by the common myths and