A discussion paper put together by G8 member nations seems to suggest just that, painting a future when border agents regularly search iPods, iPhones and laptops for infringing material.

Titled “Discussion Paper on a Possible Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement,” the document, which was recently leaked online by Sunshine Media through its whistleblower Web site Wikileaks.org, is expected to be tabled in a July meeting of G8 nations in Tokyo, according to Canwest News Service.

To be sure, the paper mentions more methods than customs agents searching iPods. The document also calls for international cooperation among nations, including sharing resources and information.

But it was the “Border Measures” part of the document suggesting “ex officio authority for customs authorities to suspend import, export and trans-shipment of suspected IPR [Intellectual Property Rights] infringing goods” that caught the media’s attention and prompted headlines warning of border iPod seizures.

“Music and film industry to get police force,” read the headline in the online version of Britain’s Inquirer; “Government wants your laptop,” warned Canada’s The Province; and Macworld U.K. reported, “Copyright police threaten Mac, iPod.”

Aside from customs agents searching iPods and computers, which many countries’ border guards already do while checking for child pornography, the document also calls for greater cooperation from Internet service providers, promising liability safeguards for ISPs in exchange for cooperation.

Calling on ISPs to join in on the fight against copyright piracy is nothing new. The recording industry has been calling for such action, claiming the service providers are getting rich at the record labels’ expense. ISPs, on the other hand, say they are merely providing Internet connections and cannot regulate the actions of their customers.

However, other provisions in the discussion paper suggest a more powerful “copyright police” with the power to conduct border searches, including seizure and destruction of illicit copies; authority to report information to intellectual property owners and to take action against suspected infringers without complaints from the property owners.

But it’s the iPod / laptop angle that’s got everybody stirred up. The idea that customs agents might be empowered to search such devices and determine whether the contents infringe on anyone’s copyright isn’t exactly heartwarming to the millions who transverse international boundaries on a regular basis. And you don’t have to own an MP3 player, a DVD player or a laptop to be alarmed. After all, do you want to be the person in line at customs who is standing behind the person whose devices are being searched?

“If Hollywood could order intellectual property laws for Christmas what would they look like? This is pretty close,” Dave Fewer, staff counsel at the University of Ottawa’s Canadian Internet Policy and Public Interest Clinic, told Canwest News Service.