Risk
5/30/2008
06:12 PM
George V. Hulme
George V. Hulme
Commentary
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Hey: They're Gonna Confiscate Your iPod

From border guards to copyright cops. Get busted with ripped music at the border, and you just may have your iPod, notebook, or smartphone confiscated on the spot. Maybe even if you acquired the music legally.

From border guards to copyright cops. Get busted with ripped music at the border, and you just may have your iPod, notebook, or smartphone confiscated on the spot. Maybe even if you acquired the music legally.I dropped a slice of pepperoni pizza on my iPod while I was reading "Border Security To Become Copyright Police" today at PopSci.com. According to the story, a trade agreement under development may make it legal for border agents to search your notebook and MP3 players for copyrighted material.

Sounds scary, but straightforward, right? It's what border agents do: They search for contraband at the border. To me, this usually means your stash of vodka and smokes. From the story, by Matt Ransford:

Guards and security personnel would be authorized to search electronic devices for any content that "infringes" on copyright laws, whether the copies are from legally purchased CDs or DVDs or not, and decide on the spot which content is infringing. The officials would be given authority to take action without any formalized complaint from the rights holders and without a lawyer present on behalf of the accused. The draft allows for the confiscation or destruction of any device the agents deem suspect.

Wow. The way this reads, it appears that even if all of the music on the player was copied from legally purchased CDs you could be deemed an "infringer."

Furthermore, it seems as if you're at the whim of a single border guard, who doesn't have to prove the material is stolen, just decide that it is and you are guilty.

I wonder what border agents will be giving to their relatives on birthdays and holidays? Confiscated iPods, notebooks, and iPhones?

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