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Patent chief teaches children a lesson about copyrights

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Nothing turns a stomach foul quicker than a sixth-grader lacking sufficient knowledge about copyrights and intellectual property.

So, hats off to director of the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Jon Dudas, who yesterday gave a rousing speech at Legacy Elementary School in American Fork, Utah, extolling the virtues of keeping Hollywood safe. Dudas had the wee ones in his hands by using the 'Revenge of the Sith' video game as an example of American IP (intellectual property) in need of protecting. The bureaucrat "reminded the graduating class that copying or downloading others’ property without their permission is a crime and that they have a responsibility to help stop it," the USPTO said.

(Reminder: This is the last call for submissions in our "Biting the Pigopolists" badge design contest. Be sure to show off your PhotoShop skills before it's TOO LATE.)

It may seem unusual to see a government official browbeating teenagers in person at an elementary school, but there was some reason behind the madness. Dudas travelled to Utah for a two-day “Conference on the Global Intellectual Property Marketplace" - an event meant to nurture IP awareness with small businesses - and found time to pitch the youth.

“Illegally copying computer games, DVDs and other products is just as wrong as stealing these items from the store,” Dudas said. “Copying and downloading Star Wars video games and movies is not okay - it’s breaking the law because it is stealing someone else’s property. It’s important that people - especially children - show respect for others’ property, whether it’s your next door neighbor, your classmate or a company that’s far, far away.”

Picture of two Legacy Elementary School Students

We always pay attention to politicians when we're not watching Britney Spears

The music and movie industries, with help from the government, have used lawsuits to teach many children the real value of copyrights. It's hard to say whether a speech from Dudas or the threat of eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches behind bars is worse.

Without doubt, however, the children learned a valuable lesson about protecting business concerns for the good of America's future economy. Now back to passing notes and awkward flirtations. ®

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