Boy Scouts to Hunt Patent Trolls

The Motion Picture Association of America has enlisted Los Angeles-area Boy Scouts in the cause of purging America of copyright thieves.

Fresh on the heels of the MPAA announcement comes this news (of dubious provenance): Intel Corporation has teamed with the Pacific Skyline Council of the Boy Scouts of America to offer a “Freedom to Operate” patent activity badge. Scouts will be require to define the concept of the “patent troll” and will be expected to identify at least three patent trolls operating in the San Francisco Bay Area.

But seriously: Boy Scout activity badges aren’t worth much. A Scout can get an activity patch for participating in the annual popcorn sale. As a Boy Scout parent, *I* can get an activity patch for helping with the annual popcorn sale.

And in fact, I think that the observation that this is *not* a merit badge explains at least part of the mini-mystery here. According to the Mercury News, the program is designed to reach Scouts ages 6 to 21. But you can’t join the Boy Scouts until you’re 10, and you have to leave when you turn 18. That means that the program reaches Cub Scouts — or, in reality, it reaches their parents, since kids that age are really too preoccupied with other things to worry about “official” Scouting activities. Those parents are now on notice. And it reaches Venture Scouts, which means that in some sense, the program hits the college set, and it reaches both men and women, and it reaches men and women who have every reason to know who, exactly, is downloading stuff. The Boy Scout piece gets all the publicity, but I think that the MPAA is thinking concretely as well as symbolically.