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.