By Rachel Galloway

IMPORTANT NOTICE:  The views expressed in this article are solely those of Ms. Galloway and may not necessarily reflect the views of Law on the Row or Barry Neil Shrum, Esquire.

The last time I watched a Happy Tree Friends video was when I was around 13 years old in the company of my 10-year-old cousins. The videos typically consisted of the characters getting into situations where they lost limbs or impaled themselves with blood squirting everywhere. Needless to say, when I watched YouTube’s Copyright School, I was shocked to see those same characters teaching me about copyright infringement and piracy.

YouTube’s Copyright School video has been on the site for roughly a month now with 248,734 views, 1,142 likes, and 5,914 dislikes (as of April 25, 2011 when I viewed it). I have heard and read many mixed feelings on this video and personally find it to be unsuccessful. Judging from the dislikes, I am not the only one.

I understand where YouTube is coming from in trying to educate children and teenagers on copyright issues using characters that they would normally watch such as Happy Tree Friends. However, I am not sure that they will get the effect they are hoping for. In my opinion (and experience with today’s generation), teenagers and children will continue to copy and use copyrighted work regardless of whether they understand that it is illegal.

In my two years at Belmont University as a Music Business major (where students are required to take a Copyright Law course), I have come to find out that teenagers do not care whether downloading music illegally is wrong or not. They simply do not care as long as they do not get caught. I find it ironic and hypocritical to go to a school where artists are encouraged to create original works and where copyrighted works are taught to be protected to find out that mosBioPic1t of the students (including the artists) still continue to download illegally. This infringement mainly takes the form of pirating music just like with the majority of American teenagers. In my opinion, if we can’t get college students who have a substantial knowledge on copyright infringement and it’s consequences to stop pirating music, then how can we get teenagers across America to do so with a 4 minute and 39 second YouTube video?

Pirating music is an issue that will always be a problem for the music industry. There have been many suggestions made that attempt to fix or at least ease this issue. Personally, I believe that the best way to go about this is to cut the cost of digital downloads (from $9.99 an album to around $1-$2 an album), so that consumers will not feel like they are forking out a ton of money towards entertainment that they believe should be free.  Personally, I would rather pay a low price for an album of superior quality than go through the trouble to find the pirated version for free that has a bad quality.

YouTube’s Copyright School had the right idea and motivation. Will it make a difference in the music industry? I personally doubt it. I applaud them for making an attempt to educate kids across America on the issue, but I believe that this is probably a losing battle.

Rachel Galloway is a Sophomore Marketing major with a minor in music business at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee.  Born and raised in Atlanta, Rachel graduated from Providence Christian Academy in Lawrenceville, Georgia in May 2009.  She came to Belmont University the following year with an interest in marketing and event planning in the music world.  There, Ms. Galloway studied copyright under the tutelage of Professor Shrum.  Upon graduation, she hopes to open her own event planning company.