This was easier in the 80s...
March 31, 2010 9:55 PM   Subscribe

What should I know about the legality of sending a USB mixtape across international borders? Will sending 20 great songs to a dear friend get me or them in trouble? Can I do anything else to cover my ass? Assume both origin and destination are developed, non-US countries.
posted by anonymous to Law & Government (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I wouldn't worry about it. Of all the contraband going through the post, a mix tape worth of music isn't really a priority for customs officials.
posted by birdherder at 10:04 PM on March 31, 2010

Don't sweat it. Really.

Mix away.
posted by dunkadunc at 10:05 PM on March 31, 2010

First, I don't know of any Western country that actively investigates criminal copyright on random stuff. Usually, they wait for a complaint from the copyright holder. They might bust a large scale DVD-printing operation, if they're being too blatant.

Second, assuming you're not sending it to some censor-happy dictatorship, nobody at customs is going to read the USB drive. So, even if they were interested in piracy, they won't know about it.

Third, if you're really that paranoid, just encrypt it. This is one of those very few situations where a self-decrypting archive might be the right answer (they're normally not a good idea at all).
posted by Netzapper at 10:33 PM on March 31, 2010

Zip it, encrypt it. Problem solved.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:41 PM on March 31, 2010

Yeah, crypto is the answer here. Although you almost certainly don't have to worry about it.
posted by delmoi at 1:25 AM on April 1, 2010

Given that, in the times I participated in MefiSwap, where CDs full of songs, clearly labeled with what songs they contained, were sent around the world with no reported problems, I think you're fine.
posted by Jimbob at 2:36 AM on April 1, 2010

If you send it to Russia, it will probably be confiscated. All flash drives I've sent to and from Russia have been either stolen or confiscated (impossible to tell). None contained anything more than mp3 or pictures.
posted by fake at 5:38 AM on April 1, 2010

Depends on the country. You will never get busted for copyright infringement, but your package might mysteriously disappear as some postal workers will take anything that appears valuable.
posted by sid at 5:41 AM on April 1, 2010

Send it UPS or FedEx, as people have mentioned. Government-controlled mail will get stolen.
posted by Damn That Television at 7:02 AM on April 1, 2010

Are you asking whether it is legal to republish someone else's work, or what the chances are you will be caught?
posted by gjc at 7:24 AM on April 1, 2010

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