Hong Kong’s Anti-Piracy Sweatshop

The Boy Scouts of Hong Kong are at it again. Last year they began awarding merit badges for copyright proficiency, and now they’ve enlisted their entire membership to scour the web for signs of piracy. Nothing says summer fun for kids like firing up the laptop and searching the internet for intellectual property violations.

It’s not just the Boy Scouts either. According to the New York Times 200,000 children Youth Ambassadors, will be actively involved in the program.

All members of the Boy Scouts, Girl Guides and nine other uniformed youth groups here, ranging in age from 9 to 25, will be expected to participate, government officials said.

Aside from the part where youth groups in Hong Kong run from age 9 to 25 (what the hell?), you’ve got to wonder if parents realized what they were signing their kids up for. Traditionally the Boy Scouts have not been involved in law enforcement, let alone covert operations.

While the MPAA is not officially linked to this program, their fingerprints are all over it. Any violations that are found are passed along to the MPAA, so whether they want to admit involvement or not, they’re directly benefiting from what appears to be an anti-piracy sweatshop.

It certainly meets all of the sweatshop criteria:

  • Offshore – check
  • Underaged workers – check
  • Low pay (or in this case, no pay) – check

The MPAA claims to lose billions of dollars a year to piracy and this is the best they can do?

Meanwhile, the program has made the young spies somewhat unpopular with their peers:

Youths who participated in a pilot program this spring found another problem: some of their friends thought it was uncool. “They joke with me and ask, ‘Oooh, will you arrest me?’, said Hung Ming-Wai, 16.

At this point it’s got to be really rough being a Boy Scout in Hong Kong.

Fortunately for the pirates, most of these copyright enforcers have early bedtimes.

“Sometimes I found the Bit Torrent seeds, but it was too late and my parents urged me to go to bed,” he said. “By morning I had forgotten the Web links and could not go back.”

I can just hear those parents now. “Go to to bed! The pirates will still be there in the morning.”

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