Canada Says It's Legal To Sell Instructions On How To Do Illegal Things

from the freedom-of-speech dept

Many years ago, in the time before the web, I used to get the famous Loompanics Unlimited catalog (which apparently now exists online). It was chock full of amusing and interesting books — many of which were all about how to do various illegal things. These were mostly pamphlets, mixed in with other bizarre and fun books. I was more interested in the other books (not about how to do illegal stuff), but the illegal books always looked more harmless than anything else. They were there more for the shock and thrill of the titles more than any practical information. In the US, selling such books is perfectly legal — following through on their instructions, of course, is not. However, in Canada this wasn’t so clear. So, a guy got arrested for selling a (probably useless) email package giving people instructions on “breaking into houses, making bombs, and creating false credit card numbers.” The Canadian Supreme Court, however, has realized that, just as in the US, there’s nothing particularly illegal about selling such information. It’s just acting on it. Of course, the court did order a new trial as it appears that the guy in question (whoops) may have been also creating fake credit card numbers himself, potentially breaking the law.

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