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Although this particular subject is far from the enormity of importance that such topics as Peak Oil and Climate Crisis carry, an article on the front page of Vancouver BC's The Province newspaper has got me a little riled up.  As we all know, the recording and movie industry has been waging a rather futile war against perceived copyright violations for a number of years, usually resorting to suing little old ladies whose 12 year old kids download a handful of songs.  Canada, which has been a bit of a safe haven for P2P sharing, is thinking of taking draconian measures to protect the entertainment industry.

Next time you visit Canada, your iPod may be confiscated if a border guard decides you have illegally obtained material on it.

The article in The Province says:

OTTAWA -- The federal government is secretly negotiating an agreement to revamp international copyright laws that could make the information on iPods, laptops and other devices illegal, according to a leaked government document.
...
Border guards and other public security personnel could become copyright police under the deal. They would be charged with checking laptops, iPods and even cellphones for content that "infringes" on copyright laws, such as ripped-off CDs and movies.

The guards would determine what infringes copyright.

The agreement says any copied content would be open for scrutiny -- even if it was copied legally.

I don't know how many times any of you have crossed the border into Canada, but let's just say the guards on either side aren't exactly the best and brightest.  The fact that the guards would become the judge, jury and executioner of copyright infringement is absurd.  

How exactly is a border guard going to know if the songs on my Sony Walkman (I'm anti iPod, just for the record, mostly to go against the grain and be totally punk rock in the process) are illegally downloaded or properly obtained?  Worse yet, what is going to stop a Copyright Police Officer from confiscating your laptop and going through all of your files rather that restricting the search to media content?  If you happen to have a risque photo of your wife on your laptop, would you appreciate any officer in any capacity seeing it?  What's to stop them from checking your browser history or you have your passwords saved in Firefox, from logging into your various email accounts to see what you've been writing to others?

Canada has enjoyed fairly relaxed laws regarding file sharing simply because the RCMP feels they have more important things to deal with than individual file downloaders.  Whether piracy is right or wrong is not the issue here.  The Canadian Constitution  says "Under the constitution, everyone has the right to be secure against unreasonable search and seizure."  

The other disturbing issue within the article is that any copied material is open for scrutiny.  If you're the type of music listener, like me, who copies every storebought CD to MP3 format to listen to on your iPod or Walkman, this in effect may make those sort of copies an offense of some sort.  The implications are quite unnerving.  

I already dislike crossing the border as it is.  There's no need to add this extra layer of invasive tactics.

Originally posted to ssmt on Tue May 27, 2008 at 04:27 PM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Don't copyright my tip jar (26+ / 0-)

    For the record, I have downloaded a Metallica song without Lars' express written permission.

  •  Well, to be fair... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Kayakbiker, Temmoku, jlms qkw

    ...customs agents technically already have the right to look at anything they want that's in your possession when you try and enter a country. More technically, if you refuse to let them search whatever they choose to search, they can deny entry.

    As a matter of policy, though, this seems like it would be a waste of their time.

    •  I can understand certain aspects of that (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jlms qkw

      For instance, if the guard is suspicious your trunk is full of cheap American cigarettes that you want to sell in Canada, then yeah, they have the right to search your car.  But there should be a burden of proof on the guards to only search if given reasonable grounds for suspicion.  

      But what exactly constitutes a reasonable cause here?  An iPod in sight?  

      •  I have to disagree. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        jlms qkw

        Why should there be such a burden of proof or standard of reasonableness? I fail to see the moral imperative.

        •  Do you want to be subject to search by whim? (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          jlms qkw

          In other words, are you comfortable being searched at any given time based on an officer having a bad day or just feeling like picking you out for a search?  It's simply another step towards creating a police state where authoritarian figures have absolute control.

          •  It's not 'anytime.' (0+ / 0-)

            It's "anytime I cross a border." Thankfully, the American constitution protects me from arbitrary searches during the course of my daily life.

            However, if I choose to leave the country, I have full expectation beforehand of the other country ensuring I'm in compliance with their laws.

            Quite frankly, it's just like getting on an airplane. You know they can search you and they tell you that beforehand. They're also similar in the sense that I have no legal right either to fly nor to visit another country. Hence, I have no grounds to argue with whatever bullshit they want to put me through. If I don't like being searched at the Canadian border, I won't go to Canada; there's no fundamental human right to travel wherever I please.

            •  In my case... (0+ / 0-)

              ...I'm a US citizen who will be a legal resident (very soon) in Canada so I'd like to think I have protections in both countries.  

              But the main point is reasonable searches.  I don't find it reasonable to search someone's private data because a border guard decides your iPod contains illegal material.  

              Of course, I will love the day when I have my affairs completely in order and don't return to the US at all.

      •  Earbuds when you are going through customs? (0+ / 0-)

        I long for the good old days where church was the place where we sang hymns and slept. (After Paula Poundstone)

        by captainlaser on Tue May 27, 2008 at 05:30:40 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  well (0+ / 0-)

      Customs agents are already trained to detect copyright infringement.

      But mostly the type having to do with dangerous fake drugs or consumer electronics.

      Also knock off merchandise.

      But they don't search passengers for the above just importing for sale. afaik.

      "Stop the drama. Vote Obama!"

      by Number5 on Tue May 27, 2008 at 04:41:36 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  The US stole Celine Dion and Neil Young from us (7+ / 0-)

    We should be able to steal as many downloads of American artists that we want in Canada.

    I know, I know....you probably want to give Celine Dion back.

  •  Your CD's copied to your hard disk are safe (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ssmt, captainlaser, sistersilverwolf

    There is no way to assess whether they were copied illegally. The same is true for IPod content.  

    No IPods or computers would be allowed if the concerns of this article became true.  

    Be ashamed to die until you have won some victory for humanity. Horace Mann (and btw, the bike in kayakbiker is a bicycle)

    by Kayakbiker on Tue May 27, 2008 at 04:37:25 PM PDT

  •  Conservatives are a bunch of buffoons! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ssmt, captainlaser

    They are stupider than Bush.  And that is really saying something.  This wouldn't be in the same portfolio as Minister of Foreign Affairs, the guy that had to step down yesterday.  Or is it the portfolio of that Religious Wacko Stockwell Day.  I kid you not Stockwell Day is even more of a Fundamentalist Christian than Bush.  It is truly scare that a guy like Stockwell Day is in charge of "Public Safety".

    •  Does he know what a 'safe' even is? (0+ / 0-)

      I long for the good old days where church was the place where we sang hymns and slept. (After Paula Poundstone)

      by captainlaser on Tue May 27, 2008 at 05:33:50 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I don't think so, because this is his (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        captainlaser

        answer to AIDS:

        http://thetyee.ca/...

        •  Here is a quote from the 2004 Article (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          captainlaser

          on Stockwell.

          Back when Mr Day was dismissing evolution he was also, lest we forget, trying to defend his more serious transgressions.  He had expressed the view that we should place child abusers in the general prison population so that those prisoners could summarily execute the abuser. He was also proud of the fact that he made a point of being one of the first customers at holocaust denier Jim Keegstra’s new garage after he was convicted of hate crimes. When he was an Alberta MLA, Mr. Day slandered Red Deer lawyer and school trustee Lorne Goddard, attacking him for defending a pedophile in a child pornography case. "Goddard must also believe it is fine for a teacher to possess child porn," said Day. He spent years badgering his cabinet colleagues to end abortion funding

          Yep, this guy is one of the top people in Stephen Harper's Government, in charge of Public Safety no less.  This is truly scary stuff.

  •  Sounds like the Conservatives are trying to find (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    decembersue

    ways of searching for Kiddie Porn on people's laptops. A #1 issue for these Right-Wing Nut Jobs.  That is how the get into power make everyone think that the Canadian Laws are too Lax for Child Porn, and scare the Regular Folks that thinking only Right-Wing Nuts can protect their kids.

  •  Conservatives everywhere (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ssmt, TracieLynn, Kayakbiker, Hastur, zerone

    lust after a police state. I doubt this would be widely enforced, but that's sort of the problem; if a border guard decides to have at it with you, it's something else he can use.  It's a wider net, so to speak, to be used arbitrarily, at the pleasure of whoever happens to wear the uniform.

  •  "Fair Use" allows you to copy your own CD's (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ssmt, Kayakbiker

    You just can't fileshare or distribute them.

    It is like making a xerox copy of a book you own.

    I dare the RCMP to look through my 80GB on my laptop .... maybe the photo of Steven Harper and Maxine Bernier doing coke at the Hell's Angel's party in Montreal last year would be of interest to them.

    What?  You don't want to see that photo?

    I long for the good old days where church was the place where we sang hymns and slept. (After Paula Poundstone)

    by captainlaser on Tue May 27, 2008 at 05:29:49 PM PDT

  •  Harper's Canada is younger brother to Bush's U.S. (0+ / 0-)

    Why is it that copyright infrigement and carrying fruit across the border are punished worse than corporate crimes...

    They want telco immunity, yet, we can't have immunity from being held without charge for 30 days or more. They want us to support the troops, yet they don't even given the troops the proper equipment to do their jobs. They want us to do our bit for the environment, yet they don't believe that water should be considered a human right. Anyone want to start a new country with me? I'm thinking of calling it "peaceland - (no repubs allowed - how's THAT for an immigration policy)

  •  Arrrr! (4+ / 0-)

    Sorry, I just can't help but think of pirates.  But here's the real issue: does anyone honestly think that cross-border piracy of intelectual property would be done physically?  So much data goes back and forth over the 'net each day, who is loading up their smuggling van with mp3s and trying to sneak into/out of Canada?

    If the RCMP has better things to do than pursue this, then that should be true for the Canada Border Services Agency too.

    If Canada starts conficating American iPods at the border, the only thing they're going to get is fewer Americans coming to spend money in Canada.

    "He is a pleasant man, who, without any important qualifications for the office, would very much like to be President" - Walter Lippmann about FDR

    by MJinWI on Wed May 28, 2008 at 09:32:43 PM PDT

  •  Border Guards (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    snakelass, Simply Agrestic

    I have traveled to many countries, and I can say without a doubt that the only time that a normal, law-abiding citizen gets treated like a common criminal is when he goes across an international border in such a way that is not considered normal.

    Canadian and USA border guards as a group tend to mistreat everyone going through the border (even the guards of Belarus were nicer to me!)  Having to look at the portrait of POTUS W while waiting is its form of torture.  I live far from Canada, but have driven far out to go skiing, including a few times to Canada (by car.)  I have been hassled both ways (actually worse by US border guards.)  

    One time, I happened to have some ibuprofen pills (maybe 10 or so) with me that I had bought in Europe, that did not look like the pills that are sold in the USA.  The US border guards carefully investigated my medicine bag, and asked me what those pills were.  I learned later that those guards took a small piece out of every one of those pills!  Talk about a waste of taxpayers funds!

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