Attention Hong Kong Boy Scouts! Log on to the internet and make some room on your sash for a new merit badge. The New York Times has a story today discussing the Hong Kong government's plans to have 200,000 children from nine uniformed youth groups volunteer to scour internet discussion rooms for copyright infringement. The Youth Ambassadors are being asked to send reports of illegal copying to customs officials who will verify the posting and then forward that information to the content industry.
While teaching kids about copyright law is a noble goal, using hundreds of thousands of school children as unpaid internet snitches is a biased and exploitive way for the content industry to achieve it. Why are the Youth Ambassadors stopping at reporting music and video file sharing? If we really wanted to teach them about copyright law then why not have them report incidents of companies engaging in copyfraud and put them on the lookout for the content industry abridging fair use?
At least the Youth Ambassadors have a great logo of a happy computer wearing a jaunty police cap that I think would make a great merit badge: