Propaganda is probably too light of a term to describe this piece of propaganda.
We're referring to an educational comic strip (fat .pdf) on unlawful file sharing of music developed by judges and professors to teach students about the law and the courtroom experience.
It was produced by the National Center for State Courts, a nonprofit describing itself as an "organization dedicated to improving the administration of justice by providing leadership and service to court systems in the United States."
But the story line here is a miscarriage of justice at best -- even erroneously describing file sharing as a city crime punishable by up to two years in prison.
What's more, the organization said Thursday, it has distributed some 50,000 copies of the 24-page leaflet to students across the United States. Threat Level's sister blog, the Underwire, wrote about the leaflet's debut in October.
"The Case of Internet Piracy," however, reads like the Recording Industry Association of America's public relations playbook: Download some songs, go to jail and lose your scholarship. Along the way, musicians will file onto the bread lines.
"The purpose is basically to educate kids -- middle school and high school-aged about how the justice system operates and about what really goes on in the courtroom as opposed to what you see on television," said Lorri Montgomery, the center's communications director.
The center just published its second educational leaflet, "The Case of Stolen Identity," Montgomery said.
The piracy story has two plots. One is of the file sharer's grandmother fighting eminent domain proceedings to keep her house while Megan the criminal file sharer deals with the charges against her.
The story is simple: Megan learns to download music from a friend. About 2,000 downloads and three months later, a police officer from the fictitious City of Arbor knocks on her door and hands her a criminal summons to appear in court.
All the while, her grandmother is trying to save her house from the city that wants to pave it over. When the grandmother gets home from a day in court (she eventually beats the city and keeps her house) the criminal Megan is crying. "Oh, Nana. What have I done? I've ruined everything," she said. "I'll lose my scholarship. I know I will."
The two embrace. "Hush now. We will find a way to get through this. I promise," the grandmother tells her granddaughter, whose parents were killed in a traffic accident 12 years before.
To the criminal courtroom we go …
In the case of Megan Robbins, "Criminal Case Number 67589B," a city prosecutor urges the maximum two-year sentence after Robbins pleads guilty. The city appoints her a public defender. (Criminal copyright infringement is when somebody sells pirated works and not sharing on a peer-to-peer network. And it’s the federal government, not local cities which prosecute the criminal cases.)
The local prosecutor, Terry Williams, tells the judge that the defendant "is charged with theft, at the state level" and adds that the girl faces "stiff penalties – up to two years in jail and $25,000 in fines."
"Many consider downloading music without paying for it to be a victimless crime, but nothing could be further from the truth," the prosecutor says.
The prosecution added that "Her conviction sends a message that illegally downloading music is a crime, and anyone involved will be held accountable."
The criminal is handed a three-month suspended sentence and 200 hours of public service.
The bigger crime is this leaflet.
I like how they make her seem like a junkie who had her life changed when she got caught doing heroin.
EDIT: Could someone move this to the News forum. I had no idea we had one until recently
Getting busted for illegal downloads helped me change my life!...no really...what's the point of this actually...it sounds more like they're spreading word that piracy exists >_> and that they're promoting graffiti look at that Do not download on the wall :/