Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) is a copyright protection agreement between the United States, some European Union countries, and now Canada. They already have a pretty random law up in the great white north that allows them to randomly search devices to find files that infringe on copyright laws.
The new plan would allow the border agents to check any device (including cell phones) that they felt like checking.
The agreement says that “the security officials would be charged with checking laptops, iPods and even cellular phones for content that ‘infringes’ on copyright laws, such as ripped CDs and movies.” Even worse is that the government officials would be the ones who determine what infringes copyright. Scary!
If a device has content that violates copyright law, the device itself could even be destroyed.
Additionally, the agreement would change the way that ISPs deal with copyright holders. Currently in Canada, copyright holders must have some evidence that a person is using their ISP service to distribute illegal content. The new plan is to allow copyright holders to force ISPs to hand over personal information of users regardless of proof. You thought it was bad when the RIAA sued all those college students. It is frightening just to think about.
What is so distressing is that copyright law in general is not very clear. Fair Use and owning the DVD, but not being allowed to watch it on my iPod, only complicates the problem. Think you know copyright law pretty well? Try out this quiz and let us know if you are a copyright genius. The quiz shows that it is pretty hard to determine when something is used “legally”.