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In Hong Kong, boy scouts are patrolling the tubes:

Starting this summer the Hong Kong government plans to have 200,000 youths search Internet discussion sites for illegal copies of copyrighted songs and movies, and report them to the authorities. The campaign has delighted the entertainment industry, but prompted misgivings among some civil liberties advocates…

All members of the Boy Scouts, Girl Guides and nine other uniformed youth groups here, ranging in age from 9 to 25, will be expected to participate, government officials said.

And no child-spy-mobilization-movement is complete without an industry-funded pep rally:

The so-called Youth Ambassadors campaign will start on Wednesday with 1,600 youths pledging their participation at a stadium in front of leading Hong Kong film and singing stars and several Hong Kong government ministers.

Via Nobody's Business.

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  1. Yeah, let’s reward the Hitler Youth for being little snitches. Wonderful…

  2. Baden-Powell would have approved, anyway.

    Kevin

  3. It’s good to know that a 9 year-old will be determining what an “illegal copy” is given that the Supreme Court of the United States still isn’t very clear.

  4. OK this sounded pretty scary for a minute. But now I’m thinking this is going to backfire. Aren’t the kids they want to enlist the most highly motivated, creative, and determined offenders? Somehow I think that putting in a few hours with the Junior Anti-[strike]Sex[/strike]Piracy League will only make them better at subverting it.

  5. A friend from China told me that everybody knows who the informants are, and many of them are elderly women. Why? Because elderly women are plugged in to all the local gossip.

    If I were an evil overlord, I would not build a police state that has to rely on people with osteoporosis.

  6. I hate the recording industry. I really do.
    Steal a record for Jesus!!

  7. 200,000 uniformed young ‘uns in Hong Kong have been enlisted as spies in the war on [drugs] piracy.

    The linked blog item equates the “war on drugs” with the “war” on piracy.
    “Pro-Liberty. Anti-Nannies.”
    “Liberty” to steal copyrighted materials? Sure, enlisting kids to “spy” on discussion sites is creepy, but libertarian blogs’ continued insistence that copyrighted material isn’t property is worse.

    Free Minds. Free markets. Free music?

  8. Even 200,000 browsers will not be able to index, parse, track and tag every mp3 out there. On top of that, the story mentions only copies found on discussion groups, which not only sounds like a very teenage way of distibuting music, but ignores torrents, newsgroups, sharenets, and a few other more efficient ways of doing it.

  9. “but libertarian blogs’ continued insistence that copyrighted material isn’t property is worse.”
    The only reason “copyrighted material” exists is through government decree. It’s an entitlement program. The copies = stealing argument is pure big business, and isn’t even true.

  10. The only reason “copyrighted material” exists is through government decree. It’s an entitlement program. The copies = stealing argument is pure big business, and isn’t even true.

    The only reason any personal property exists is through government decree. If the government said that all your stuff now belongs to me, it would be mine.

  11. ed,
    Bullshit. He is equating the coerced spying by children for both the Chinese Govt’s anti-piracy campaign and the bill introduced by Sensenbrenner that would have required people to snitch on folks using illicit drugs. Nowhere in that blog entry does he argue for or against intellectual property rights.

  12. DanT. – nice try, but a little thought reveals that I can build a fence around my property and physically keep you out. Ooops, forgot about that, huh? I can lock up my goods to keep you from taking them. I can can protect my property in a number of ways, but with copyright, I can only sue you. Hey, I’m in favor of copyright, but making copies is not stealing.

  13. The only reason “copyrighted material” exists is through government decree.

    The same is true of real estate.

    It only exists as a form of property because the state granted property rights to private individuals back in the day and maintains a system for registering, transferring, and protecting said property rights.

    I find it remarkable that almost every argument, pro and con, for intellectual property, has a close analogue in real property.

  14. If I were an evil overlord, I would not build a police state that has to rely on people with osteoporosis.

    Game Ball Quote of the Day!

  15. I find it remarkable that almost every argument, pro and con, for intellectual property, has a close analogue in real property.

    And an even closer analogue in other non-physical property, like farming quotas. Well, perhaps you don’t find it remarkable, but I find it remarkable that so many people don’t see intellectual property and farm quotas as two examples of non-physical property whose value depends solely on limiting what people can do with their physical property.

  16. “Without property rights, no other rights are possible. Since man has to sustain his life by his own effort, the man who has not right to the product of his effort has no means to sustain his life. The man who produces while others dispose of his product, is a slave.”*

    Discuss.

    *She who cannot be named

  17. Thank you anon.

    Whoa ed, let’s not get into the “Lamar hates property rights” game. I think copyright has a purpose. It’s the expansion of it that I oppose, especially prying into people’s lives and police raids.

  18. Lamar,

    but a little thought reveals that I can build a fence around my property and physically keep you out.

    So, what do you do when I climb over your fence, or cut a hole in it, and trespass onto your so-called property?

  19. ed,

    She sounds like a shallow thinker whose trade is bombast.

    However, even if one stipulates that without property rights, no other rights are possible, that doesn’t begin to address whether a particular property right (e.g. a farm quota, or a copyright) is needed.

  20. I can build a fence around my property and physically keep you out.

    But the owner’s rights in real property exist regardless of whether there is a fence, so it is neither necessary nor sufficient for creating real property rights.

    And the fence only works if I respect it. It doesn’t “physically keep me out” in any strong sense, because any fence can be cut or climbed through or over. Much as a license agreement works only if I respect it.

    And an even closer analogue in other non-physical property, like farming quotas.

    But the dirty little secret of real property is that real property rights are intangible rights. For example, property lines don’t exist in the physical world, after all, and neither do such abstractions as drilling rights or easements.

  21. “But the owner’s rights in real property exist regardless of whether there is a fence, so it is neither necessary nor sufficient for creating real property rights.”
    Your missing the point. The point is that I can physically exclude you from my property. That’s something that cannot happen in intellectual “property” law. Giving people title to land is something that reinforces my ability to exclude you. In the context of copyright, the legal process is the only thing excluding you from my property. Sure, you can climb my fence, and I can sneak in a blow up your CD Burner, but I’m talking about our country’s muddled philosophical view of copyright, while you’re concerned that somebody can just hop over my fence (whereupon I can shoot them – it’s not so easy to shoot someone who may or may not be making illegal copies).

    Also, if real estate is so analogous to copyright, where is the fair use doctrine? Parody? There’s also no constitutionally protected right to own property, whereas copyright stifles free speach. We’ve been so conditioned to buy into the big business line that people actually think copyrights exist somewhere. They don’t . . . but land does.

  22. Lamar,

    The U.S. Constitution, as originally adopted, gave Congress the power “To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries;” which is a power that trumps state law (since Congress can’t grant an exclusive right if a state can simply not recognize it). The first amendment only prohibited Congress (but not the states) from making laws which abridge the freedom of speech. In that sense, the founders valued intellectual property higher than free speech.

  23. When it comes to intellectual property we are discussing objects which **would not exist unless someone took the trouble of creating them**. It is not land which was lying there and whose character quite often does not change when someone puts a fence around it. Thus a property which derives basically from force, i.e. the ability to evict or keep out others forcibly if necessary.

    I believe that property whose origin was an act of creation should be protected more than one which was based on force.

  24. Anon2:
    They valued the creation and spread of information higher than free speech. You apparently forgot to read the VERY FIRST clause in the sentence: “To promote the progress of science and the useful arts….” This is explicit. Notice how, “to protect the profits of a fast growing industry” is not in the Constitution? Must be a lower priority than free speech.

    I’m going to have to side with Cato on this one:
    Link to Cato’s Handbook for Congress

  25. Lamar:

    Maybe they figured that people who created and distributed information would not get discouraged and stop creating and distributing if they could not reap the fruit of their labors.

    I mean, doing it for love is fine to a point, after a while you have to pay for groceries and figure out that there is more money in accounting…

  26. Adriana,
    I agree with you that groceries must be bought. My concern is that Universal Music Group doesn’t buy groceries. They spend their money on other things, like paying off Congress to write new copyright laws and extend the old ones. Both of these measures specifically protect their industry and reduce innovation. My major objection here is that people say making copies is stealing, when it is no such thing. These are intangible rights that the government deems desirable to expand and enforce. In my opinion, clearly a minority opinion, our focus on the music and movie industry’s global economic targets has defeated the original purpose of the copyright clause. Are we trying to encourage “the useful arts” or simply make Universal Music Group better able to offer a bigger line-up of Brittany wannabes? Worse, to a certain extent, copyright law is being used to cash in on T&A and nothing else. Can you imagine that in the Constitution? To promote science, the useful arts, and the display of excellent racks, Congress shall have the power….

  27. Lamar:

    Since when libertarians object to a corporation making “too much profit”? And are they public utilities that they have to provide “quality products” or else? That’s what PBS is for. Record companies will sell what people buy, as any other corporation.

    Tell me, would you use the same arguments if they were selling something else?

  28. “Since when libertarians object to a corporation making ‘too much profit’?”
    Uh, if you’ve bothered to read any of my posts, you would see that the profits are a result of government interference, and a result of the industry buying influence in Washington. If you are in favor of such a purchase of the nation’s laws, you are not much of a libertarian, are ya? So please, we’re talking about EXPANDING copyright protection, even though it restricts our freedom, solely because it is good for big business. My question is: since when do libertarians place the profits of multi-billion dollar corporations over their own (heretofore constitutionally protected) freedom to disseminate information? And I realize non-creative types think this about judging the quality of art, and we forgive you. But it isn’t. It’s more about sustaining the flow of information and ideas. These are things that truly matter. Where do you think all this creative stuff comes from? Thin air?

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