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included in many programs. For example, basic patent and trade secret law could be taught in all science and engineering programs, while copyright law could be included in any instruction dealing with literature, art or computer science.
Along with the initial consideration of the substantive component of what should be taught, a procedural component must also be determined. This component actually considers a number of related questions -- when should a specific topic be taught, and in what order as related to other topics; how should the specific topic be presented, including general tone; and what form of communication is most effective given the nature of the topic and the audience involved. The participants at the kick-off meeting discussed a number of factors that should be considered in making these determinations.
Determining when a topic should be presented depends on its degree of complexity. As noted earlier, basic concepts of intellectual property such as ownership easily taught at a young age. More complicated topics, such as the exclusive rights of intellectual property owners and fair use, would likely be reserved for later study. However, complexity of the subject matter alone is not the only consideration. A complex topic can be simplified for earlier ages, leaving more detailed instruction for future study. For example, the basic notion of ownership may be introduced at an early age, but should also be reinforced when discussing exclusive rights, licensing, and in other related topics throughout a person's education. Thus, the answer to the question of when a given topic should be taught may be "always," with increasing degrees of complexity so that students are not overwhelmed by a subject that they are too young to understand.
A slightly different factor to consider is how a particular topic should be presented. A point raised in the first meeting of the Copyright Awareness Campaign was that copyright education should not be a series of "thou
shall nots." Instead, education should carry a "just say yes" message that works may be accessed and used, and that seeking permission is not an insurmountable barrier. The prohibitions against unauthorized use of intellectual property should be cast in terms of a right to control one's property. The public should also understand that copyright protection is specifically prescribed for a limited period of time, after which the underlying work becomes dedicated to the public. In addition, users should recognize that as online licensing becomes more readily available for accessing protected works on the NII, the delays in seeking authorization from the property owner will be minimized.
Another problem with the determination of how a topic should be presented is ensuring accurate and consistent information. In order for the public to respect and participate in educational programs, they must be able to rely on the information they receive. As many private organizations have already developed their own educational materials often directed at specific audiences and applications confusion may result on the part of the layperson based on perceived "mixed signals" of what is and is not permitted. Therefore, as curricula and other educational programs are developed, clear and consistent information must be ensured in order to avoid confusion and contempt. A system for "peer review" of educational material by impartial editors may aid in presenting accurate and consistent information.
The third factor, and perhaps most important, is the form of communication used to deliver an education program. Clearly, audiences respond differently to varied methods of communication. Numerous methods have been suggested through the Copyright Awareness Campaign for getting the message across including: classroom learning; video instruction; distance learning; broadcast television and radio; satellite teleconferencing; cable television; on-line services; billboards; books, magazines, and other publications; music; and art. Combinations of these methods in copyright workshops will reinforce key concepts and help tie information together. Many of these forms of communication are already being used to educate the public about copyright law -- and the producers of these materials should work together to determine which methods are most effective for a given audience. The sharing of such information will go a long way toward reducing duplication of efforts -- especially those that are less effective.
Educators and media organizations can have tremendous impact on the procedural component because they possess the expertise required to determine whether a particular educational message is being effectively communicated. Through testing procedures, educators may determine whether certain concepts are comprehended by students. Similarly, through marketing surveys,
media organizations can determine the forms of communication that are most effective for particular audiences. These methods of evaluation are already available for other educational and communication materials, thus requiring only minor adaptation for the evaluation of an intellectual property curricula.
The final goal of the Campaign is the establishment of a system that provides the public with easy access to accurate and up-to-date information on copyright, including guidance on when and how to get authorization to use copyrighted works. While educational
programs and curricula may raise public awareness, they cannot teach the public every facet of the law as it applies to new and previously unencountered situations. People soon will become frustrated with such programs if they cannot get quick answers to their questions regarding compliance with copyright law. In order for NII users to comply with the law, they need to know where and how to receive additional information on copyright as they encounter new situations on the NII.
A number of methods could be used to provide this service. A directory of attorneys having expertise in a particular field, such as copyright issues dealing with educational or library applications, could be developed and maintained. Additionally, as was suggested in the Copyright Awareness Campaign, a package of copyright basics could be established on a World Wide Web home page for access by interested users. Similarly, a copyright information news group could be established on Usenet to keep users informed of where to go to get important copyright information. The U.S. Copyright Office provides on-line access to its circulars, announcements, and regulations (proposed and final), as well as information regarding registration information (original and renewal), and other recorded documents. Other private organizations also provide such information and counseling, often for nominal charges.
It is difficult for intellectual property laws to keep pace with technology. When technological advances cause ambiguity in the law, courts look to the law's underlying purposes to resolve that ambiguity. However, when technology gets too far ahead of the law, and it becomes difficult and awkward to adapt the specific statutory provisions to comport with the law's principles, it is time for reevaluation and change. "Even though the 1976 Copyright Act was carefully drafted to be flexible enough to be applied to future innovations, technology has a habit of outstripping even the most flexible statutes.
From its beginning, the law of Copyright has
to the original need for copyright protection. Repeatedly, as new developments have occurred in this country, it has been the Congress that has fashioned the new rules that new technology made necessary.
The Working Group has examined the adequacy of the Copyright Act to cope with the
pace of technological changes. In applying the law to new uses, media and technology, the issues presented vary. Certain issues merely require an explanation of the application of the current law, and clearly are appropriately covered. Others present rights or limitations that clearly fit within the spirit of the law but the letter of the law is in need of clarification to avoid
H.R. REP. No. 101-735, 101st Cong., 2d Sess. 7 (1990), reprinted in 1990 U.S.C.C.A.N. 6935, 6938 (report accompanying legislation granting copyright owners of computer software an exclusive rental right).