Last Friday, July 29, 2005, the Canadian Supreme Court ruled that posting and selling instructions for illegal activity such as “breaking into houses, making bombs, and creating false credit card numbers” is legal – as long as you don’t do the illegal activity yourself. Story here.
This hearing was called in regards to a recent case involving a man selling bomb-making and burglary instructions:
The Supreme Court ruled 6-3 to clear Rene Hamilton, 23, on charges related to the the bomb-making and burglary recipes, holding that the salesmanship itself was not a crime, a Canadian TV station has reported.
Although, the judges ordered a new trial concerning creating false credit card numbers because of evidence suggesting that Hamilton conducted these actions himself, and that if he engaged in such activity then it is a strong possibility that others have followed suit.
But Justice Louise Charron argued that Hamilton should have been cleared on all charges, writing for the dissent that counseling to commit fraud, the charged Hamilton received, “is too blunt an instrument to address the situation without imperiling a range of harmless and/or valuable expression.
A little more research needs to be done to see the ramifications of this decision to how the United States Supreme Court sees posting and selling illegal how-to guides. If you look at the cases on how the RIAA and MPAA have been trying to get the software companies liable for the massive copyright infringements on peer-to-peer networks, these two issues aren’t that far off. There are differences between posting how to do something illegal, building the means to do something illegal and doing something illegal, but there are so many complications that it seems impossible to make a general consensus on the matter.