Technology, Top News

UK gov uses cartoon series to show kids the ‘fun side’ of intellectual property

Nancy and the f*cking Meerkats. I haven’t spent 20 years as a journalist for this….

THE UK GOVERNMENT is teaching seven-year-olds about the moral corruption of online piracy, through a fictitious band called Nancy and the Meerkats.

The Key Stage 2 materials, developed in association with the Intellectual Property Office, hope to make “dry” and “niche” topics more fun.

A five-minute cartoon called ‘The Name Game‘ tells the story of an aspiring French Bulldog Pop Star and her battle to save her ideas from the evil Kitty Perry.

Alongside her friends Justin Beaver, and Ed Shearling (a dimwitted Welsh Sheep, of course) they learn about the importance of coming up with an original band name and then trademarking it.

And already we’re losing the will to live. This report was originally on the BBC by the way, it’s not our fault.

The group also has an iTunes podcast series and appears regularly on FunKids Radio, which again, is a thing and sounds suspiciously like something that children are subjected to while their middle-class mummies drink Turmeric Lattes together in the park. 

Try this little gem to get the flavour: “So we sparked up a deal with a merchandising company. These organisations are given permission to use the band’s name and images like the logo and photographs to produce items for fans to buy.

“Later on Joe* revealed our new T-Shirts and toys. They are brilliant! And Kitty Perry can’t steal our designs thanks to licensing.”

But the IPO, which has spent £20,000 of public money on the campaign, is not even slightly apologetic about teaching this kind of thing to primary school kids.

Catherine Davies who is head of the agency’s education outreach department (because, you know, it has one of those) admits that the subject is a complex one that is usually reserved for GCSE students, who deserve to suffer.

“In today’s digital environment, even very young people are IP consumers, accessing online digital content independently and regularly,” she explains.

“They are creators of IP, and many will leave school or university to take up careers in industries that depend upon inventiveness and creativity.

“A basic understanding of IP and a respect for others’ IP rights is, therefore, a key life skill.”

But is this all a bit much for kids at an age when most would be quite happy playing with the latest Look Skyborker figure from the Space Wars action franchise?

Jim Killock from the Open Rights Group is concerned that the facts are actually being blurred.

“Some of the material seems misleading, in particular, the episode explaining that downloading is the same as stealing from a shop.

“While it’s wrong, it is neither the same in law – as downloading is a civil wrong while theft is a crime – nor is it a convincing analogy.

“The IPO risk educating children that copyright law is stupid and immoral by putting forward simplistic arguments like that.”

But then to play devil’s advocate, and we can’t stress this enough, never mind if the message is right or wrong – THEY’RE BLOODY SEVEN-YEAR-OLDS. That is all. µ

*’Big’ Joe is their manager. He looks a bit like a cross between Boris Yeltsin and Hugh Scully. 

Source : Inquirer

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