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Letters: Copyright in the classroom

Re "The three Rs, and copyrights," Editorial, Nov. 12

I have spent most of my career in a futile attempt to stem the tide of socially acceptable theft of music and movies.

The Times' casual use of the expression "fair use" feeds the common misperception that fair-use exceptions are some broad right and not the limited rights that copyright law sets out. Indeed, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and many newspapers mistakenly believe fair use includes illegal downloading for "sampling" or "sharing" (stealing).

That said, trying to include some child-sized version of copyright law in K-12 curriculum is likely to be a failed experiment. The issue is more appropriate for a high school civics course, as copyright was so important to the founders that it is one of the few legal principles actually set forth in the body of the Constitution.

Lower schools should simply promote the idea of private property and the kids' right to keep the things they create, be they artwork, books or songs.

Tom McGrath

Los Angeles

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