The Boy Scouts of America are probably best known for instilling a sense of good citizenship and ethics in the nation’s youth for the past 100 years. In an effort to tackle the issues that kids face in today’s world, Scouting magazine recently ran a story for scoutmasters on how to address the issues of copyright infringement with their troops.
While piracy is an important topic to explain to those in an adolescent age group, some of the advice that the magazine dishes out is questionable.
“So how can Scouters teach ethical behavior related to music downloading? One way: Set a good example. When you haul around Scouts in your car, for example, only play CDs that you’ve purchased. If you play CDs that you’ve burned–even if they’re legal–your Scouts may not recognize the difference between those and the pirated CDs friends have given them,” the article states.
Not only does the piece imply that is isn’t possible to explain the distinction between legal and illegal copies of media to kids, it also goes on to blame musicians who give away content for making the issue more complex.
“Part of the problem lies in the Internet’s free-for-all nature, where users get all sorts of content free–even information from newspapers that they would have to pay for in the real world,” said Dr. Tony Aretz. “Bands like Radiohead have further complicated the situation by giving their music away or offering it on a ‘pay what you want’ basis.”
Some of the additional resources recommended by the article are also questionable. One particular link, musicunited.org, is basically a propaganda site launched by the RIAA whose tactics against piracy don’t exactly fall into the category of “ethical”. So how did this happen? The magazine’s ill-conceived advice might just be the fruit of the MPAA and RIAA’s previous efforts to propagandize the Boy Scouts of America.
The issue of copyright infringement is a complicated one that isn’t easy to explain, even to adults, but that doesn’t seem like a good excuse for over-simplifying the issue for teens. In fact, kids often have a better understanding than the adults when it comes to digital media and the article is quite an insult to their intelligence. Some scoutmaster who unwittingly attempts to dish out the magazine’s advice to some computer-savvy scouts is likely going to hear some backlash.