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Canadians Consider Using Border Guards to Enforce Copyright

Canadians Consider Using Border Guards to Enforce Copyright
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May 28, 2008 6:00 AM PDT    Text size: 
VANCOUVER, Canada — The Canadian government is secretly negotiating an agreement to revamp international copyright laws that could make information stored on iPods, laptops and other devices illegal, according to a leaked government document reported in Vancouver newspaper The Province.

The agreement also would force Internet service providers to hand over customer information without a court order.

The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, which would not need approval from the Canadian Parliament, would see Canada join the U.S. and the European Union in a coalition against copyright infringement.

Border guards and other public security personnel could become copyright police under the deal, and would be charged with checking laptops, iPods and even cellphones for content that "infringes" on copyright laws, including music and movies.

The security personnel would determine what infringes copyright, and the agreement says any copied content would be open for scrutiny — even if it had been copied legally.

"This will end up in the Supreme Court of Canada if it goes forward," said Darrell Evans, executive director of the British Columbia Freedom of Information and Privacy Association. "Under the constitution, everyone has the right to be secure against unreasonable search and seizure.

"Where you draw the line to protect copyright is very dangerous. This would give security people, who could be designated as any policeman, more license to pry into your data. If you're carrying a laptop in a cafe, a cop could look at it."

Beau Hunter, a director of the IPSA International in Vancouver, a consulting firm that investigates the theft of intellectual property, applauded the news.

"Canadian laws are very lax," Hunter said. "Piracy results in lost revenues and jobs. The agreement would be a tool to punish folks for piracy."

The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement discussion paper was leaked online by Sunshine Media, which runs Wikileaks.org, a whistle-blowing website created to help circulate secret documents.

Michael Geist, Canada research chairman of Internet and ecommerce law at the University of Ottawa and an expert on Canadian copyright law, blasted the government for advancing ACTA with little public consultation.

Details of ACTA's plans would not need to be leaked online if the process were open and transparent, Geist said.

International Trade Minister David Emerson said Canada would help create ACTA last October.

"We are seeking to counter global piracy and counterfeiting more effectively," Emerson said at the time.

The new agreement will likely be discussed at July's meeting of G8 nations in Tokyo.

Canadians Considering Using Border Guards to Enforce Copyright VANCOUVER, Canada — The Canadian government is secretly negotiating an agreement to revamp international copyright laws that could make information stored on iPods, laptops and other devices illegal, according to a leaked government document reported in Vancouver newspaper The Province.

The agreement also would force Internet service providers to hand over customer information without a court order.

The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, which would not need approval from the Canadian Parliament, would see Canada join the U.S. and the European Union in a coalition against copyright infringement.

Border guards and other public security personnel could become copyright police under the deal, and would be charged with checking laptops, iPods and even cellphones for content that "infringes" on copyright laws, including music and movies.

The security personnel would determine what infringes copyright, and the agreement says any copied content would be open for scrutiny — even if it had been copied legally.

"This will end up in the Supreme Court of Canada if it goes forward," said Darrell Evans, executive director of the British Columbia Freedom of Information and Privacy Association. "Under the constitution, everyone has the right to be secure against unreasonable search and seizure.

"Where you draw the line to protect copyright is very dangerous. This would give security people, who could be designated as any policeman, more license to pry into your data. If you're carrying a laptop in a cafe, a cop could look at it."

Beau Hunter, a director of the IPSA International in Vancouver, a consulting firm that investigates the theft of intellectual property, applauded the news.

"Canadian laws are very lax," Hunter said. "Piracy results in lost revenues and jobs. The agreement would be a tool to punish folks for piracy."

The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement discussion paper was leaked online by Sunshine Media, which runs Wikileaks.org, a whistle-blowing website created to help circulate secret documents.

Michael Geist, Canada research chairman of Internet and ecommerce law at the University of Ottawa and an expert on Canadian copyright law, blasted the government for advancing ACTA with little public consultation.

Details of ACTA's plans would not need to be leaked online if the process were open and transparent, Geist said.

International Trade Minister David Emerson said Canada would help create ACTA last October.

"We are seeking to counter global piracy and counterfeiting more effectively," Emerson said at the time.

The new agreement will likely be discussed at July's meeting of G8 nations in Tokyo.

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