A proposed trade agreement could authorize border agents to search the contents of laptops and iPods for copyrighted material
By Matt RansfordPosted 05.30.2008 at 11:49 am 19 Comments
As if the security in airports and controls at border crossings weren't slow and intrusive enough, governments around the world are quietly passing laws to allow them to search the contents of your laptop and other electronic devices, like iPods and cellphones. A United States court last month gave border agents carte blanche to hold a laptop for days and even copy its entire contents. The UK government has given its agents authority to search computers at its borders for pornography. But in what may be the most baffling and cumbersome move of all, the US, Canada, UK, and other EU nations are working behind closed doors on a new trade agreement which could turn border agents into the copyright police.
"Rip, Mix, Burn" more than an Apple marketing campaign, it was a rallying cry that meant "Take control of your music!" Well, today the Supreme Court killed Rip, Mix, Burn, or at least the innovative spirit behind it.
In the MGM v. Grokster case, several major record labels successfully sued a group of peer-to-peer (P2P) software companies for producing software that permitted copyright infringement (that is, online trading of commercial music) when the court believed that a different, less-efficient design might have prevented it. The justices ruled against P2P companies Grokster and Streamcast because they believed that the companies intended for their users to infringe copyright with their service.