Sunday, October 29, 2006

Free Culture Badge

As a former scout and the parent of a current cub scout, I am horrified at the prospect of an MPAA-sponsored "Respect Copyright" merit patch to be dangled as an incentive before kids right here in SoCal, in local LA troops no less.

Of course, it's not the first time that I've been troubled by the decisions of scouting policy makers. Certainly, I was hacked off by the fact that the leadership has stripped even the littlest scouts of their religion insignia if it was earned from activities involving my centuries old religion that included many of the founding fathers, just because my faith shows more respect for the individual lifestyle choices and committed unions of gays and lesbians than the BSA does. (The major religion in question even developed a separate scouting curriculum to try to solve the conflict.)

After reading a story about a somewhat similar scout-sponsored piracy prevention program in Hong Kong, readers may remember that Mel Horan and I jokingly crafted some nifty mock-ups of possible patches to be used, should the program come here to the States. This was a gag, however. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that it would actually happen. How could such a one-sided, moralistic, anti-consumer marketing effort be foisted on a bunch of earnest and community-minded kids?

So now we've made up a new patch, for a much more challenging "Free Culture" badge, to be earned by intrepid, hard working, patriotic scouts. Here are some of the requirements:
  • Appear at the door of a major studio, dressed in your full scout uniform, and try to talk them into allowing educational use of historical films commonly shown in public schools (Amistad, Schindler's List, etc.)
  • Raise money with a bakesale to go across the country to CMG Worldwide in Indianapolis or Intellectual Properties Management (IPM) in Atlanta to convince these organizations to free images associated with Rosa Parks or Martin Luther King and release them into the public domain for use in school projects, such as web pages
  • Paint a colorful mural on a graffiti covered wall across the street from the headquarters of the RIAA with the 9 Reasons Digital Media Products Are a Bad Deal for Consumers.
  • Using your knot-disentangling skills, visit a hospital or nursing home and help the aged with their DRM-hobbled digital products
  • Go to an orphanage, battered children's home, or juvenile detention facility and show kids how to use Creative Commons resources
  • Put in 100 hours of community service at your local library and see the toll that new legislation against patron privacy and public connectivity takes on your local civil servants. Then imagine what it will be like if they have to deal with RIAA and MPAA lawsuits for circulating audio and video content.



Blogger Dave LaMorte said...

The badge is the wrong shape of a merit badge, but 10 times better designed. I think the key is to write the curriculum for a badge to give to the BSA under a CC license. That's what the studios did.

1:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

darn, and here i was sitting on a similar post ready to rock out my totenchip. as an eagle scout who evangelizes free culture, i have started to wonder why in the world is LA/Cali BSA working to promote a society that is war with the very ideals of freedom. i for one am not willing to stand for this. surely, we are not the only ones who believe that scouting has taken the wrong path. how do we right the wrongs of the elders who are walking down the wrong path?

let's do something about it...

10:49 AM  

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