The digital world in which we live offers a type of free-for-all of information readily available on the Internet. We live in a time when technology gives us the tools to create, share and publish almost anything online. This ease of information makes understanding what belongs to whom extremely difficult. It's critical for us all to be aware, and to teach our children and students, that protecting the intellectual property of others is a necessary 21st Century skill.
We can also download most anything. Students also know how to remix existing content to share and/or publish. What they may not know is that, depending on the circumstances, they may be breaking the law.
Yes, you can download those movies and songs for free, put them on your computer, phone, media player, and even share them with your friends. But the consequences of illegal peer-to-peer file sharing can be devastating. In addition to breaking the law, depending on the type of content, you could be denying a musical artist, photographer, etc. the income of their profession.
Copyright laws are changing to adapt to the world of YouTube, Pirate Bay and other file sharing sites, but in the meantime it's imperative that we teach our students about the ownership of intellectual property the same way we teach them about physical property.