Boing Boing reports the Los Angeles chapter of the Boy Scouts of America is now offering a “merit patch” (they don’t call it a merit badge) for “respecting copyright”. One wonders what’s being taught to get this patch.
Boing Boing is highly suspicious that there will be much left out, with good reason:
The merit badge patch in “respecting copyright” will almost certainly not include any training on fair use, anything about the fact that the film industry is located in Hollywood because that was a safe-enough distance from Tom Edison that the its founders could infringe his patents with impunity; that record players, radios and VCRs were considered pirate technology until the law changed to accommodate them; or that the entertainment industry enriches itself without regard for creators, who are routinely sodomized through non-negotiable contracts and abusive royalty practices. I’m sure it won’t mention the anti-competitive censorship masquerading as the Hollywood “rating” system, or the way that the studio cartel’s copyright term extensions have doomed the majority of creative works to orphaned oblivion, since they remain in copyright, but have no visible owner and can’t be brought back into circulation.
Not to mention the effect of the monopolistic studio-owned theater system which kept competition from locally-owned smaller theaters at bay; if a smaller theater ran a hit movie that movie was months past its popularity and most audiences had already seen it at the studio-owned theaters. Most of the time hit movies were simply not distributed to smaller theaters.
I brought up many, if not all, of these points in some detail when I took Jack Valenti, former head of the MPAA, to task during his visit to the annual Roger Ebert Overlooked movie festival in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois a few years ago. I got tired of the shilling and telling only half the story, so I was first to the audience mic and told his audience some of what they were missing in Valenti’s talk. After Valenti’s talk, A number of people approached me in the hall outside the Illini Union’s Pine Lounge where the talk was held to ask me about what I was saying. I also got a letter to the editor published in the local newspaper responding to the front-page unquestionably pro-Valenti article it ran.
Ebert has made it clear that he knows what side his bread is buttered on so he’s not going to let his movie festival host anyone who questions the beleaguered artist story Valenti was telling. Ebert invited another movie industry shill to the Pine Lounge the year after Valenti came by but I made an impression with him: I wasn’t able to make that talk, but someone I know told me that Ebert mentioned my presence and rebuttal that year.