On the way to earning the rank of Eagle, members of the Boy Scouts of America take an oath "to help other people at all times" and to keep themselves "physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight." Now, thanks to the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), Scouts can do more than just help old ladies across the street and learn how to tie a sheepshank knot. They can earn an activity patch for respecting copyrights.
To get the "Respect Copyrights" patch, Scouts must be able to identify five types of copyrighted works and three ways of pirating the same, and must undertake activities ranging from visiting a movie studio to talking with victims of illegal downloading. The program is limited to the Los Angeles area for now, but there are plans to broaden it next year.
"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," MPAA head Dan Glickman told the press in October. That may be true, but aren't Boy Scouts already supposed to be trustworthy (not to mention loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent)? If Scouts' iPods are packed with unauthorized music and movie files, perhaps the issue isn't as cut-and-dried as Hollywood likes to think.