Aussies consider auditing music collections for piracy

Australia’s government is looking at plans to inspect travelers’ gadgets for pirated music at airport checkpoints. Moreover, the proposal is said to be part of broader international treaty discussions. From PC World:

Under the agreement, agents would be able to issue “criminal sanctions” — fines, or theoretically even jail time — if they discover pirated tracks on your player. And to think, here you figured the only risk of downloading the latest Hannah Montana tune was complete and utter embarrassment if your friends found out.

As ideas go, it’s stupid beyond comprehension: there’s no reliable way to know if music was illegally copied. Banning MP3 files is just Napster-era dumbness back for second helpings, given that the music industry itself now knows that DRM is self-defeating. That it’s being made an airport security issue is the really knock-eyed part.

Pirated Music Crackdown…at the Airport? [PC World]
Australian Government Proposes Checking MP3 Players at Airports [Gadget Lab]

About Rob Beschizza

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17 Responses to Aussies consider auditing music collections for piracy

  1. Rob Beschizza says:

    There will be no superscript for you.

  2. thornae says:

    … and this is yet another example of why I’m moving to Europe.

  3. Bloodboiler says:

    Dam kids making copies of phonograph cylinders.

  4. pauldrye says:

    There’s no easy way, once the music is loaded on to the iPod, to sort or filter by file size.

    So the obvious solution to this problem is to create a text file a few bytes in size, give it a name resembling a song’s and an extension of MP3. On an 80 gigabyte iPod you could literally carry tens of billions of them with you. You’d probably want a perl script or something to do this for you, but it’d be relatively trivial.

    Now watch Customs grind to a half for several days for each and every iPod brought through when they have to examine every one of the 2 x 10^10 files.

    (Bah, boingboing doesn’t parse the sup html tag….)

  5. Anonymous says:

    @ACB – to make the point more clearly, Australia does not have the same “fair use” laws as the US – so it is explicitly illegal to copy a legally owned CD to mp3, or even to make a backup disk. Of course, there’s always non-DRM’ed online purchasing, so I guess we could say we’ve done that for all the items on there. But anyone who says “I bought those CDs fair and square” will get it up the clacker.

  6. strider_mt2k says:

    Wow.
    This is incredibly stupid.

    Should I photo every one of my CDs now so I can shown them they are legal copies for my own use?

  7. liveartwork says:

    This is all part of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA)(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anti-Counterfeiting_Trade_Agreement) which was under discussion at the G8. I’m not sure if the treaty was passed but if so it opens up the possibility for border searches for copyright infringing material in most Western countries.

  8. Joel Johnson says:

    How in the fuck… It would take hours to search for copyright infringing material. Hours per person.

  9. Garr says:

    21st century lobbyism. Why does the government think it may (or even has to) get involved? And always for certain lobbies and against citizens. Why do government decrees tend to make life harder for each individual, instead of more comfortable (an example of a smartly solved exeption: ProVision mmWave introduced at airports)

    In the U.K., the government passed a bill legalising the music-industry to force an ISP to disconnect a customer from the net if they think the user might be trading files illegaly.
    Why don’t the Aussies take an example of that and just install high energy magnets at the security check to instantly wipe out all HDDs upon passing the gate (and maybe some EMP-derived technology to do the same for solid state memory), thus ensuring there is no possibility a person might carry potentially illegal files on board?

  10. acb says:

    Australia has more severe censorship laws than Europe or the US (a lot of films are cut or banned there, as are all video games not deemed suitable for children), and one of the world’s strictest quarantine regimes for physical items (basically anything that may be biologically alive is examined minutely). Until now, this has had a huge blind spot, where media wasn’t routinely searched, and it was trivially easy to bring in banned materials. Now they may be closing this loophole, and getting MAFIAA-approved copyright audits as part of the deal.

  11. Thaddeus Smith says:

    even if they DID find a quick method, it would surely generate endless false positives…

  12. Anonymous says:

    How the hell would they know if a track is pirated? None of my music is DRM’d and all of it was bought legally.

    Are they going to just say “No DRM, No Music”? Utter crap.

    Let me guess.. it’s a new safety measure to save us from terrorism?

  13. adamrice says:

    I am eagerly awaiting a technical explanation of how they’ll be able to distinguish a track ripped from a CD from a track downloaded from Amazon or iTunes from a track downloaded via bittorrent.

    This assumes, of course, that they’ll have some kind of magical admin-level electronic interface to every MP3 player ever made, since a customs officer scrolling through your collection presumably won’t be able to discriminate legally obtained tracks from illegally obtained ones just by visual inspection.

    Either that, or the customs officer will just look you in the eye and say “come clean, some of these are pirated, right?” and rely on his keen sense of human behavior to tell honest people from pirates.

    Yarr.

  14. Bobsledboy says:

    I hate where this country is going.

  15. UnderRat says:

    @#1 Srider “Should I photo every one of my CDs now so I can shown them they are legal copies for my own use?”

    But will they believe that you just didn’t copy your friends CD pictures?

  16. UnderRat says:

    Oh, and wouldn’t taking said pictures of CDs violate the copyright of the images on the CDs themselves?

  17. KeithIrwin says:

    The fact that they even think that this is feasible is shows how far out of touch they are with the technologies and marketplaces of digital music.

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