It's perfectly legal to sell instructions over the Internet for breaking into houses, making bombs, and creating false credit card numbers, so long as you don't appear to follow those instructions yourself, the Canadian Supreme Court ruled Friday.
But the recent case, which involves an Alberta man accused of selling via e-mail a $50 package containing the offending instructions, has led some justices to a broader conclusion: The Canadian Parliament needs to pass new legislation that clarifies crimes linked to transmitting information over the Internet.
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.
The justices ordered a new trial regarding the instructions for generating false credit card numbers, because they heard evidence that Hamilton himself was engaging in the activity. Such behavior, they concluded, was enough to prove a "substantial risk" that those who bought the instructions would also be able to commit the crimes.
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."