The Newest Force Against Internet Piracy: The Boy Scouts?!

Dennis Faas's picture

Young Boy Scouts all over Los Angeles now have a new reason to put on their uniforms, pull up their knee-high socks, line up their merit badges, and fill up their cookie boxes.

That's because the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) has just joined forces with the Los Angeles Area Boy Scouts. Pitching a tent, starting a fire, crusading against Internet movie piracy -- it's all in a day's work for the Scouts. Here are a few excerpts from the official MPAA curriculum distributed to the Scouts:

  • "Identify five types of copyrighted works (two may be your own). For each, give the author/creator and the date the work was copyrighted."
  • "Name three ways copyrighted materials may be stolen."
  • "Visit a video sharing network or peer to peer website and identify which materials are copyrighted and which aren't."
  • "Research peer to peer websites -- describe to your troop what they are and how they are sometimes used to illegally trade copyrighted materials. There are peer to peer groups who offer legal downloads and those who offer illegal downloads -- make a list of both. Suggest ways to detect peer to peer software like the MPAA's Parent File Scan." (Note: Parent File Scan is a program that lists all file-sharing programs and media file -- legal and illegal -- on someone's hard drive.)
  • "California specific: Visit a movie studio with your troop. Upon your return list all of the things you saw that went into making a movie. Have a discussion with your troop leader about how much each item cost or how much it costs to make a movie (information on MPAA website)."
  • "Go to a movie and stay through all of the credits. Tell your counselor and/or troop leader who you think, in addition to the main actors and actresses, would be hurt if that film were stolen?"
  • "Explain what a bootleg DVD looks like and how people can avoid purchasing counterfeit DVDs on the streets." (Source:

The official press release features comments from both the MPAA and the L.A. Boy Scouts:

MPAA: "One of the most important tools we have to fight piracy is education and I commend the Los Angeles area Boy Scouts for working with us to help raise awareness about piracy among their troops in Los Angeles." said Dan Glickman, Chairman and CEO of the MPAA. "The film industry is a major contributor to the Los Angeles economy and as such, it is important to protect the economic vitality film brings to L.A. and the state of California. Working with the Boy Scouts of Los Angeles, we have a real opportunity to educate a new generation about how movies are made, why they are valuable, and hopefully change attitudes about intellectual property theft."

L.A. Boy Scouts: "We are excited to work with the MPAA to provide this new educational opportunity to our more than 52,000 young people who participate in our programs including: Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts, Venturing and Learning for Life, and are working to expand the program to include all Boy Scout councils within the Southern California area," said Victor Zuniga, Los Angeles Area Council Public Relations Director for the Boy Scouts of America. "The Respect Copyrights patch is a fun way for young kids to learn more about the what goes into making movies while garnering a deep appreciation for creative works and the importance of copyright protection." (Source:

But this new collaboration between the MPAA and the Boy Scouts has its critics.

According to PC blog Ars Technica, "The curriculum appears to offer no guidance regarding fair use, public domain material, the limited duration of such rights, and why you aren't allowed to make backup copies of DVDs that you purchased ... For a major corporate interest to get its message out to kids this way (and the MPAA isn't the only culprit), and to produce such a one-sided curriculum, is just inappropriate. It suggests a visceral unwillingness to truly engage with people about copyright issues; much easier instead simply to get them while they're young and drill the 'respect copyrights' message into their impressionable heads." (Source:

While this program may seems strange to anyone outside Los Angeles/Hollywood, most of the Scouts involved actually come from families with some connection to the city's famous film industry. (Source:

You can view the full curriculum for the program here:

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