A Boy Scout Would Never Pirate Copyrighted Material!

October 23rd, 2006

The San Jose Mercury News reports on another front in the film industry’s war on piracy. The Los Angeles scouting council has, in conjunction with the MPAA, created an antipiracy patch. The patch shows a film reel, a music CD and the international “C in a circle” copyright symbol.

To get the patch, scouts must learn the basics of copyright law, how to identify five types of copyrighted works and three ways copyrighted materials may be stolen. They must then choose from a list of activities that includes creating anti-piracy public service announcements and visiting a studio.

To me this seems simultaneously brilliant and stupid. Brilliant for thinking to reach out to the audience (13-21 year old boys) whose copyright-piracy beliefs are still in formation, and stupid for the ham-handed execution of the idea. All the teenagers I know are very media-savvy and disdainful of messages so obviously patently propagandist and patronizing (could the PSA become a how-to for budding pirates?).

If the intent is to personalize the effect of piracy, I suggest the patch should be awarded to scouts who create a video or audio recording, give it away DRM-less to their friends, and then manage to collect license fees on the content. Since scouts are trustworthy, loyal and helpful, I am sure the council wouldn’t need to worry about auditing the source of license revenue. Then again, scouts with those characteristics don’t need the MPAA’s message anyway, right?

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