Name that antipiracy weasel, BSA asks kids

Blackbeard the Ferret? Maybe not


US schoolchildren, already enrolled into classes on the evils of copyright violation next term, are to be invited to name the Business Software Alliance's new mascot.

The BSA explains: "Elementary school students heading back to school in September will be invited to name the 'Play It Safe in Cyber Space' mascot, a 'copyright-crusading' ferret who teaches tech-savvy kids about cyber ethics." To limit the scope for mischief, pre-teens will be limited to voting for one of five ferret pre-approved names (doubtless Weasel, Judas or Piggy will not be on the approved list). The poll will last a month.

The BSA's 'copyright-crusading' ferret will appear in a four-page comic book out in January with a storyline designed to "educate children about the importance of protecting and respecting copyrighted works such as software, music, games and movies". The comic book and companion teacher’s guide will be mailed across the US to fourth grade teachers who subscribe to Weekly Reader and will be available for free download at the Play It Cyber Safe website. The BSA wants teachers to incorporate this material in their lesson plans.

According to the BSA, its cyber ethics curriculum has reached more than 13m kids, parents and teachers since its initial distribution in 2002. Like the Jesuits, the BSA believes in moulding new minds when they are young. Results of a Harris Interactive poll, commissioned by BSA, show that young people aged between eight and 18 "understand the meaning of copyright, yet still illegally download and copy software and other digital materials".

Schoolchildren across the world have enjoyed the adventures of Ratty and Mole in The Wind in the Willows for decades. Perhaps the BSA's ferret is the beginning of a whole new literary eco-system. We look forward to meeting a bulldog that fights against consumer rip-offs in the music biz and an eagle that campaigns for a fair deal for artists, though we fear neither will appear in a comic book approved by the BSA. ®

Related stories

UK's youth boards pirate ship to bootleg island
UK gov moves to bust bootleggers
'Stealing songs is wrong' lessons head for UK schools
Software pirates cost $9.7bn in Europe - BSA


Other stories you might like

  • North Korea pulled in $400m in cryptocurrency heists last year – report

    Plus: FIFA 22 players lose their identity and Texas gets phony QR codes

    In brief Thieves operating for the North Korean government made off with almost $400m in digicash last year in a concerted attack to steal and launder as much currency as they could.

    A report from blockchain biz Chainalysis found that attackers were going after investment houses and currency exchanges in a bid to purloin funds and send them back to the Glorious Leader's coffers. They then use mixing software to make masses of micropayments to new wallets, before consolidating them all again into a new account and moving the funds.

    Bitcoin used to be a top target but Ether is now the most stolen currency, say the researchers, accounting for 58 per cent of the funds filched. Bitcoin accounted for just 20 per cent, a fall of more than 50 per cent since 2019 - although part of the reason might be that they are now so valuable people are taking more care with them.

    Continue reading
  • Tesla Full Self-Driving videos prompt California's DMV to rethink policy on accidents

    Plus: AI systems can identify different chess players by their moves and more

    In brief California’s Department of Motor Vehicles said it’s “revisiting” its opinion of whether Tesla’s so-called Full Self-Driving feature needs more oversight after a series of videos demonstrate how the technology can be dangerous.

    “Recent software updates, videos showing dangerous use of that technology, open investigations by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and the opinions of other experts in this space,” have made the DMV think twice about Tesla, according to a letter sent to California’s Senator Lena Gonzalez (D-Long Beach), chair of the Senate’s transportation committee, and first reported by the LA Times.

    Tesla isn’t required to report the number of crashes to California’s DMV unlike other self-driving car companies like Waymo or Cruise because it operates at lower levels of autonomy and requires human supervision. But that may change after videos like drivers having to take over to avoid accidentally swerving into pedestrians crossing the road or failing to detect a truck in the middle of the road continue circulating.

    Continue reading
  • Alien life on Super-Earth can survive longer than us due to long-lasting protection from cosmic rays

    Laser experiments show their magnetic fields shielding their surfaces from radiation last longer

    Life on Super-Earths may have more time to develop and evolve, thanks to their long-lasting magnetic fields protecting them against harmful cosmic rays, according to new research published in Science.

    Space is a hazardous environment. Streams of charged particles traveling at very close to the speed of light, ejected from stars and distant galaxies, bombard planets. The intense radiation can strip atmospheres and cause oceans on planetary surfaces to dry up over time, leaving them arid and incapable of supporting habitable life. Cosmic rays, however, are deflected away from Earth, however, since it’s shielded by its magnetic field.

    Now, a team of researchers led by the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) believe that Super-Earths - planets that are more massive than Earth but less than Neptune - may have magnetic fields too. Their defensive bubbles, in fact, are estimated to stay intact for longer than the one around Earth, meaning life on their surfaces will have more time to develop and survive.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022