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Monday, October 23, 2006


Copyright's Children

The Sydney Morning Herald has picked up an AP report that a new Boy Scouts patch has been developed, with Scouts able to earn this patch for “learning about the evils of downloading pirated movies and music.” The new patch features images of a film reel, a CD and a © symbol. The SMH reports that this curriculum was developed by none other than the movie industry, with Dan Glickman, current chairman of the Motion Picture Association of America, enthusiastically praising the virtues of the new program. Perhaps these kids will be lucky enough to watch the “Campus Downloading"video (for more information see Andres Guadamuz’s excellent post on this video.)

A Google search revealed that this topic has –unsurprisingly - been picked up by the world’s media and has been analysed on a number of sites. The majority of these sites have discussed the story with the same tongue-in-cheek quality as the AP report on the SMH site. However, all joking aside, it’s great that kids are learning about copyright and infringement. But why not take it one step further and introduce a “Copyright Commons” or similar patch? Surely the values espoused by the open content and open access movements are in the same vein as those that Boy Scouts aspire to. Sharing gives you the same warm, fuzzy feeling whether you’re sharing a canoe, tucker cooked at a campfire, or some content that you created last night on your computer. To achieve this patch, the Scouts could launch campaigns against copyright term extension in areas where copyright hasn’t been extended to life-plus-70 years or create plays based on the Eldred v Ashcroft litigation (characters could include Lawrence Lessig, the Justices of the United States Supreme Court and Mickey Mouse -- oh, hang on a second, the play probably can't include Mickey Mouse!)

Even if the Boy Scouts don’t pick up on my idea, at least this group will be unlikely, in the years to come, to ask that age-old question: “Is it legal to copy my CDs onto my iPod?” In fact, perhaps that should be the first lesson.


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