Anti-Pirates Scare Kids with Propagandistic Comic Book

Opinion

The Motion Picture Association has sent one of its big shot lobbyists to New Zealand to advocate tougher anti-piracy legislation, and to promote a propagandistic comic book set be handed out to thousands of local kids. Interestingly, the comic doesn't touch the subject of copyright. Instead it uses false threats to scare children and parents about the dangers of file-sharing.

In an attempt to convince the local government that pirates don’t belong on the Internet, the Motion Picture Association (MPA) sent chief policy officer Greg Frazier over from Washington. Frazier was not alone though, as he also brought in 17,000 anti-pirate comic books, ready to be handed out to children at cinemas.

Titled “Escape From Terror Byte City” the book tells the story of two young boys who attempt to download the latest Transformers movie from a P2P website. Of course, when the two fire-up their file-sharing software all hell breaks loose.

Surprisingly, the story itself has nothing to do with the consequences of copyright infringement. The comic book that is supposed to educate children about file-sharing is nothing more than a scary story about viruses, worms, trojan horses and identity theft.

It’s quite sad really when you think about it. Apparently the MPA and their anti-piracy partners have decided to give up on the message that piracy hurts their business in the hopes that horror stories about infected computers will deter youngsters from downloading copyrighted works instead.

That aside, the risks of being exposed to viruses and malware on P2P networks have always been greatly exaggerated. If we follow the logic of the MPA we might as well ban email because of all the trojans and phishing scams that are sent around. Or stop selling USB drives because people might lose them and potentially expose personal information that shouldn’t be on there in the first place.

The comic is conveniently avoiding the word copyright, perhaps because the 10 year crusade against copyright infringement hasn’t led to any results. The propaganda doesn’t work without providing alternatives, and every parent knows that forbidding something quite often leads to the opposite result.

Still, the entertainment industry seems unconcerned with innovation and new ways to adapt to the digital era. Instead they prefer to focus on promoting new ways to punish potential consumers. Aside from pushing the comic book, the Hollywood lobbyist also lobbied for the return of the controversial ‘3-strikes’ legislation which was scrapped earlier this year after public pressure.

Will they ever learn? A scanned copy of the full comic book is available on Mininova. This one’s going to be a collectors item, for sure.

Scary viruses in “Terror Byte City”

pirate comic

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