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Canadian Supreme Court Rules Posting How-To’s Of Illegal Doings Legal

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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.

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About Tan The Man

I am a proud dork and loser.
  • http://selfaudit.blogspot.com Aaman

    This is stunning – so stuff like The Anarchists Handbook is now illegal?

    Heck, half the books in any bookstore can be used for good or ill. A medical textbook is a recipe for cure or a guide to a Hannibal Lecter-type bloke. all the hacker mags and every security company has lists of vunerabilities – that help harden security, or can be used unscrupulously. This goes against rational jurisprudence.

    The fault, Dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves…

  • sydney

    Nah..Aaman, I think the article is saying the Canadian supreme court ruled that it is NOT illegal to post how-to guides.

    This is the only possible decision because, as you say, the implcations are just far to widereaching to hold everyone accountable for any ill-use made of a text.