Wednesday 6 January 2010

UK National Policy for IP Education

While the Lords flick the ermine moult off the pages of the UK's Digital Bill this week, debate is hotting up about its potential impact on junior filesharers. In The Scotsman, earlier this week, John McGhee, an IT integration manager with Glasgow City Council, a principal teacher of pastoral care and a teacher of computing at Holyrood School, was lamenting the poor record of education about lawful internet use and the impact of filesharing on the creative industries.

"There's no national steer (above right) that this needs to be part of the curriculum," he says, "as you find when it's not nationally driven it's down to individual schools" said McGhee. "The challenge is to bring teachers up to speed and a confident level. You need a capacity for an ethical debate and a technical debate."

Not quite, Mr McGhee.

There has, in fact, been a significant "national steer". Following the UK's Gowers Review of Intellectual Property, in February 2008 the Department for Culture Media and Sport published From Margins to Mainstream: Creative Britain: New Talents for the New Economy. Recommendations included commitments to:
*Promote creative collaborations between employers, educators and training providers
*Local economies driven by creativity
*Clear routes into creative careers from local schools and colleges
*Link education and the world of work
*Talent pathways to facilitate better informed and broader career choices
*Educational outreach to ensure academia is providing the right skills
*Introduction of intellectual property into the national curriculum
*Industry and academia building stronger links to bridge the gap in skills provision
*Greater emphasis on business and entrepreneurial skills as part of creative courses

Section 5 of January 2009's Digital Britain Interim report says: "The simple message at the core of this interim report is that we cannot afford to treat education and training for digital technologies as just another ‘vertical’ subject area. It underpins everything we do in the 21st Century. Successful, emerging economies have already embraced this message. We must do likewise.....Similarly, in education and training for digital life skills, we need a step change in approach, starting with the youngest. .....[There is] the need effectively to engage an entire generation growing up with the internet, multi-media formats and broadband. This starts with inspiring and innovative programmes and initiatives to engage a new generation of students and attract them into technology-inspired and creative careers."

Geoff Taylor, British Phonographic Industry chief executive, recently said the Digital Bill would be a welcomed addition to education projects, but more work was needed. "The creative industries have become a vital sector of the UK's economy, and if we are to continue that success and create more new and exciting jobs for young people, it is essential that we educate young people as to the value of ideas – whether their own or somebody else's. ......Both industry and government must do more to encourage greater respect for copyright and intellectual property in society."

The BPI can afford to make such statements. Along with bodies such as PRS for Music, private individuals working in the industry and a number of music publishers, the BPI made a contribution to the new teaching materials produced by, amongst other government Sector Skills Councils, the Creative and Cultural Skills Council. The Council has produced "a broad range of vocational qualifications for adults, and also more general qualifications for 14-19 year olds". This includes an on-line learning service, Creative Choices. The music teaching modules and materials cover in considerable details music recording, live music, music publishing, copyright law and music trade practices, collecting societies and their role and governance. Teachers throughout the UK would find these materials, that are available from CCSkills, valuable assets to help them put filesharing in its industry context for their students and to equip their charges for the real world of the creative and cultural industries. More modules from other Skills Councils are on the way.


John Enser said...

Also worth a mention is the work of Film Education ( who provide significant teaching resources to help teachers educate about a range of matters, including piracy.

Hector MacQueen said...

In possible defence of Mr McGhee, it is conceivable that when we are talking about education etc, the DCMS national territory is England (plus maybe Wales), but not Mr McGhee's Scotland domicile. It may well be that here, as in other areas of IP law and practice, Whitehall needs to engage more in dialogue with the devolved administrations, whose policies may be distinct if not different, especially in these interface areas that are typified here (i.e. devolved competence (education) meets reserved area (IP)).