Thoughts on Boy Scout Anti-piracy Merit Badge.

By Richard Menta 10/21/06

The new Boy Scout merit badge is causing quite a bit of controversy online. That's because aware consumers know that the word "Respect" in Respect Copyrights is a subjective term. The merit badge - wholly developed under the auspices the entertainment industry - is more propaganda than a beacon of good clean living. The truth is the digital age has exposed the flaws and abuses of copyright, the laws that govern it and the entities that control it.

The issues, which include the fair use rights of citizens, are complex and in need of revision. That revision will take years of congressional review and then court interpretation of law, because copyright is a state-endorsed monopoly and fair-use rights are imparted into this privilege to preserve balance. The whole process is made more convoluted by an array of bills like Broadcast Flag, which plan to impart a pro-corporate interpretation of this monopoly, weakening this balance. Monopoly should never be absolute.

New Boy Scout patch

The issue is under too much turmoil to distill into a merit badge for tween and teen boys. Recently, Creative Technologies released a firmware upgrade to its MP3 players that removed a feature that allowed these players to record FM broadcasts. Creative cited fear of record industry lawsuits. The problem is the Audio Home Recording Act of 1992 specifically allows the activity the record industry calls illegal. Are these Boy Scouts being taught that the rights given to them by the Audio Home Recording Act of 1992 are a criminal activity? You see my point. This is one merit badge whose merits are in question.

The media industries are very crafty to manipulate the Boy Scout organization into helping them with their awareness campaign. But I am not as concerned as some of my peers.

You see I was a Boy Scout and I KNOW what many of my fellow scouts did after the meetings. I can say with all honesty that not all of it was virtuous.

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