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How Would They Know My Music is (or isn’t) Legal?

Posted by Matthew Greensmith at 9:50 AM on July 29, 2008

An article surfaced today in an Australian newspaper regarding Australian customs officials being asked by the U.S. State Department to participate in checking traveler’s iPods and laptops for pirated music.

My question is, how would they know if it was pirated or not? Supposedly they were looking for “large quantities of commercial music.” Er. What does large mean? I’ve got 4,122 songs on my iPod. For every single one of those songs I either have the commercial CD that it came from, or purchased it legally through iTunes. But if I’m being checked in customs, I won’t have the physical CD’s on my person to back up what is on the iPod.

How could customs make a decision about whether or not the music was pirated? It’s mine, I bought it. But how would they know that, and how would I prove it while standing in customs? At this point, it is not illegal to upload my own CD’s to my iPod. But if I do, and I’m traveling outside of the country with my iPod, and I putting myself at risk?

Scary thought.