boy scouts, hollywood, and copyright, oh my

Cory Doctorow has an interesting post on Boing Boing about new merit patches for boy scouts relating to copyright. The patches bear the logos for the RIAA and the MPAA, which makes us all naturally suspicious about whether scouts who earn the patch would learn about fair use, the first sale doctrine, the public domain, and other "first amendment safeguards" when earning the patch. (Another patch does not bear the RIAA or MPAA logos.) Update #3 to the post includes this comment from "Jay", an Eagle Scout, who IS concerned about copyright:

Jay is disturbed to hear about the Los Angeles Boy Scouts offering a Merit Patch in copyright. He sez, "As a frequent reader of Boing Boing, a supporter of the EFF, and someone who plans on making a living as a future online communication technology consultant, I feel fairly informed about copyright issues. So myself and my roommate, another Eagle Scout, are in the process of acquiring the Merit Badge Handbook for this badge to review the requirements and information it presents. If it's as one-sided or erroneous as your post worries it will be, I'd like to get other current or former scouts to take part in a concerted effort to write the Los Angeles Area Council with our concerns.

"If you could update the post on Boing Boing with this e-mail address ( - Boy Scouts of America Concerned About Copyright), or pass it along to any other scouts that might contact you, I'd very much appreciate it. Not all scouts are religious bigots or industry shills. A lot changes between the time when you're a kid joining a group for fun, comraderie, and self-improvement, and when you're grown up and able to form your own views. I'd like to see the scouts improve where they can, and while some changes may be too big to hope for, I'll do everything I can to make sure they don't change for the worse. Help us out."

Go Jay Go!! {UPDATE - 10/24/06}Here's an MPAA press release with the outline of what it takes to earn this patch. Interestingly, there's no reference to a "fair use" component, or other free speech safeguards.

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