Boy Scouts Told To Act As Copyright Police In Hong Kong

from the report-on-your-friends! dept

China is no stranger to using youngsters to monitor the internet. A few months ago, there was a story about students at school who spent their spare time monitoring online forums and reporting anything questionable to the authorities. Over in Hong Kong, it appears they’re trying to apply a similar tactic to online copyright issues. The local Boy Scouts and various other youth groups are (at the urging of the government) instructing their members to surf the internet and report any unauthorized use of content. The kids get a private website that they can log into to report any offending content directly to the police, who will then decide whether to turn it over to the entertainment industry. This is raising some eyebrows in Hong Kong from people who aren’t entirely comfortable with children policing online content. However, in the end, it appears the thing that might doom the program the most is simply the fact that it isn’t particularly “cool” to rat out your friends for sharing some music. A student in the article admits to being teased by his friends — and it’s apparently a big enough concern that officials are trying to organize an event with famous movie and music stars. Meeting famous people is cool… but it’s still not clear that it will make it any cooler to rat out your friends.

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Comments on “Boy Scouts Told To Act As Copyright Police In Hong Kong”

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Shawn says:


Sounds to me like it’s an internet version of a “Community Watch” program. People keep an eye out for strange or illegal activity and report it. All in all, it comes down to the government to decide punishment, not the ‘police officers’. So the Boy Scouts are just more sets of eyes.

As for convincing kids to rat out friends, I don’t see the reason why cold hard cash won’t work. For every good report, give them money. That would be enough to convince many kids to help, I believe.

Robeatnik says:

Re: Well...

Wow, you would’ve done quite well in the Nazi youth with that attitude, ratting out your friends and family to the gestapo for listening to jazz or sympathizing with the Jews. Although I don’t think those kids were offered any money, but hey cash is the great motivator. Look to the famous money grubbers like Judas, ratting out your friends to the state for a pocket full of gold is sure to get you in the history books, or at least afford a few more scraps from your favorite corporate smack dealers.

Shawn says:

Re: Re: Well...

Are you comparing me to a Nazi, Robeatnik?

There is a huge difference between ‘ratting out’ people who not only did nothing morally wrong, and can suffer severe consequences.

Illegal file sharing IS ILLEGAL no matter what country you’re in. It hurts more than the recond industry, but the bands and production company’s that sunk their money into hoping that what they produced would sell. And I don’t live in China, but I highly doubt that the punishment for copyright infringement involves anything close to death.

That being said, the internet is a big place. So it isn’t just friends ‘ratting out’ friends. There are plenty of filesharers out there who the Boy Scouts may not be friends with. The criminals shouldn’t be breaking the law in the first place if they don’t want to be caught.

And of course, people don’t naturally want to go way out of their way just to help out the government. So a little cash motivation isn’t a bad thing. Kids wouldn’t get rich off of policing, so it’s hard to say that they would do it because they’re greedy.

Don’t over-exaggerate the situation. These aren’t Terminators trying to kill off everyone who are giving away stolen songs. These are people giving law-breakers what they deserve.

Whatever he said says:

Re: Re: Community Watch

Go to China sometime and see the copyright infringment for yourself. It hurts all of us. They rip off EVERYTHING — you can buy Coke that isn’t Coke, Tide that isn’t Tide; if you have seen it advertised on our TV, they have a knock-off of it in China, complete with the copywritten tradmarks.

They rip off our ideas and sell them to their people as theirs, with no compensation to the party entitled to the royalties.

They do not believe you, as an individual, have any value, and they think they are entitled to your ideas with no compensation.

You are sorely mistaken if you think the recording industry is the only one with an issue — get out from under that rock and do some homework.

Jake says:


As a young person, there is not many things worse than being ratted out by a friend, and when it happens, that “friend” is usually in line to hand out a beating, fair and square, and besides even the boyscouts infringe rules every now and then, even if its not on purpose, are they going to turn themselves in? I didn’t think so.

donald robertson says:

boy scouts of america

Are likewise pushed into the service of the recording industry. As an assistant scoutmaster I found something rather odd at a merit badge clinic out in Iowa. For some reason, the people teaching the Law merit badge felt it necessary to have all the scouts write up and read a brief statement on why filesharing is wrong and that they wouldn’t do it.

Coincidentally, this is the same compliance tactic that the Chinese used on american POW’s to get them to agree that communism was in many ways a good thing.

Daniel (profile) says:

Who Gets Hurt by What?

File sharing does NOT hurt the bands. The Grateful Dead realized this when they encouraged people to record their concerts and continue to encourage people to share their music online. Plenty of other artists have realized this as well – including many of the biggest ones.

File sharing is free advertizing. The ones who don’t buy the songs are the ones who never would have anyways.

Copyright protection, on the other hand DOES hurt bands – especially the ones who start off. More than 90% of the copyrights held by various record companies are bought to KEEP them off the airwaves so they can cash in on the big names who are making them profits.

Copyright is in its essence a government supported monopoly of creative works to serve the recording industry at the expense of everyone else.

Here’s a more complete review of Copyrights and the problems with them:

Illuminarch (user link) says:

Encouraging children to act as spies for ‘law enforcement’ is a bad thing, and rewarding them with extorted tax money is even worse. Children are not usually reliable witnesses and they are prone to lies and confabulation, and easily succumb to the pressures of authority figures. This is probably doubly true in so submissive and collectivistic a culture as China.

And yes, copyright infringement does ‘hurt’ some people, but only because they are being denied their illegitimate monopoly. This is not being hurt in the same sense as being robbed or murdered. Ideas cannot be property unless you keep them a secret, and pretending that this fallacious “intellectual property” can somehow override real, physical property (like ripping CDs, for instance) is so confused as to be incoherent.

Shawn says:

Re: Illuminarch

Firstly, I’ve said it before, the children are not the prosecuters, they are the police. It’s not up to them who goes to jail, and who doesn’t. So if they were to lie about something, it’s the government’s final say as to whether it’s true or not. So that is not an issue.

In reference to your second paragraph:

Stealing from someone does not hurt them the same as robbing them? Really, when it comes between “He stole my purse” and he “Robbed me of my purse” is there really a difference? Both mean virtually the same thing, however one does sound worse. You have to understand that when someone works on a song or a movie or a program that they are proud of, they want some sort of return on that. Simply taking it and saying “At least you weren’t murdered” is not what they deserve. Copyright infringement goes beyond songs.

Try and sympathize with the victims for a minute. You sit down one day with a great idea that can make everyones internet life easier. Say, you wrote a program that can do your taxes entirely automatically. It took you months to write it, but you’re proud of it since it can really revolutionize lives. You decide to sell it for $20 because due to all the time you worked on it, you had less time for other stuff the past few months, and you want something for it. 3 weeks go buy, and everyone is using your program, but you don’t get a penny. You don’t even get a thanks. Why? Because people are just taking it.

So judging by what you’re saying:

1. You were denied your illigitimate monopoly.

2. You were not robbed.

3. You had no right to earn money for that program.

4. You weren’t hurt.

Read the above and tell me how much of it is true.

Now please, everyone stop picturing copyright infringement as taking music from big evil music corperations. It goes much deeper than that, down to individuals who have software and videos stolen. How can they expect to get anywhere if they continually get taken advantage of?

Illuminarch (user link) says:

Re: Re: Shawn

“…it’s the government’s final say as to whether it’s true or not. So that is not an issue.”

Ah, no. Not in any just society, where the state must PROVE its case and disinterested third parties weigh the facts. And buying witnesses that are more likely to prevaricate and more easily be cajoled by the prosecution is an attempt to sabotage that justice system.

“Stealing from someone does not hurt them the same as robbing them? Really, when it comes between “He stole my purse” and he “Robbed me of my purse” is there really a difference?”

This is a strawman. I never said that stealing and robbing were different, I said that the violation of intellectual monopoly laws is /not/ any form of theft. In order for there to be theft, there must be property taken from its legitimate owner without consent. Ideas, sounds, and the like can never be property because they lack scarcity. You can have an idea, tell it to me, and then I also have the idea without depriving you of it. This situation is impossible in the realm of real property, material goods like cars, food, TVs, etc.

If you want to control what people can do with your media, then you must explicitly contract those terms with them /before they receive or purchase it./ Short of that, the only legitimate method to protect your ideas is to keep them private.

PongGod (user link) says:


Shawn, you’re distorting what Illuminarch wrote when you said…

Stealing from someone does not hurt them the same as robbing them? Really, when it comes between “He stole my purse” and he “Robbed me of my purse” is there really a difference?

The first obvious difference is that in your example, whether you use the term “stolen” or “robbed”, the owner is minus one purse. If I make an “illegal” copy of someone’s music or software, I haven’t taken anything away from that person. Whether such an act warrants some form of punishment or not is a topic of legitimate debate, but it is disingenuous to equate that with the stealing in the traditional sense.

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