RIAA Calls 4th Amendment Passe: Pushes For Warrantless Searches

from the entitlement? dept

Wow. It’s been obvious to plenty of people for quite some time that the RIAA and the MPAA don’t much care about things like free speech and due process rights afforded to people under the Constitution (see COICA and the PROTECT IP Act). But, I hadn’t realized they’d gone so far as to blatantly disregard something like the 4th Amendment. Obviously, as we’ve been discussing lately, it seems like all three branches of the federal government have decided to crush the 4th Amendment, but they usually try to at least pretend that they’re paying attention to the Constitution.

Not any more, apparently.

The RIAA has been pushing the state of California to pass a new law that would allow completely warrantless searches for law enforcement, allowing them to enter and search any CD or DVD manufacturing plant without either notice or a court order.

Yes, let’s repeat that: the RIAA is pushing a law that would let law enforcement, without any oversight, without any probable cause, without any notice, enter and search any company premises that involves pressing CDs or DVDs, in order to assure that they’re legal. Oh, and if said law enforcement discovers repeat violations, fines can be up to $250,000.

The RIAA claims that the 4th Amendment doesn’t apply here because of all the recent attacks on the 4th Amendment by the courts:

The RIAA argued that courts had carved out 4th Amendment exceptions already. So far, it said, warrantless searches have been allowed at such businesses as automobile junkyards and repair shops, mines, gun and liquor stores, nursing homes, massage parlors, pawn shops and wholesale fish dealers.

The common trait, the trade group contended, was that the businesses were in “closely regulated” industries in which “the pervasiveness and regularity of the government’s regulation reduces the owner’s expectation of privacy in his business records.”

It gets worse. The RIAA’s Marcus Cohen honestly makes this sound like it’s no big deal:

“We’re literally talking about walking into a plant, walking up to the line and ensuring that, indeed, the discs are in compliance,” he said. “I don’t think the scope of the search is something a regulator needs to be worried about.”

Oh really? And how about the RIAA member labels? How about, in exchange, they let some of us walk into their offices, take a look at their books and ensure that their royalty payments to artists are in compliance? I don’t think the scope of such a review is anything to be worried about, right?

And, here’s the crazy thing. Despite numerous legal experts saying that the bill is almost certainly unconstitutional, it sounds like it has a decent chance of passing. It’s sponsored by California state Senator Alex Padilla and has already been approved by two separate committees, and will be heard on the Senate floor on Monday. If it passes there, it’ll go to the Assembly. You can see the full text of the bill, SB 550 at that link, or embedded below.

It’s really an astounding showing of the sense of entitlement of the RIAA that it feels that the 4th Amendment shouldn’t apply. The RIAA and its member labels should be ashamed of themselves.

Filed Under: , , , , ,
Companies: riaa

Rate this comment as insightful
Rate this comment as funny
You have rated this comment as insightful
You have rated this comment as funny
Flag this comment as abusive/trolling/spam
You have flagged this comment
The first word has already been claimed
The last word has already been claimed
Insightful Lightbulb icon Funny Laughing icon Abusive/trolling/spam Flag icon Insightful badge Lightbulb icon Funny badge Laughing icon Comments icon

Comments on “RIAA Calls 4th Amendment Passe: Pushes For Warrantless Searches”

Subscribe: RSS Leave a comment
90 Comments
codeslave (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Large corporations will be the only ones with 1st and 4th Amendment rights soon if things continue the way they are. I wonder what justification Congress or the courts will use to grant voting rights to corporation… Their votes will have to be weighted so as not to discriminate against them, of course. Number of employees or market cap on election day?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Way to funny .... a law with un-planned obsolescence

Then I guess they’ll want the power to inspect manufacturers who build any device that could potentially hold music.

Of course, in five years, everything will probably have some cheap way to store digital information.

Because jobs! The economy. America! And freedom.

PW (profile) says:

ACLU

What surprised me most about this was the ACLU’s position on the matter. In an LA Times article on this ( http://lat.ms/lQlzRF), here’s what they say:

“The American Civil Liberties Union questioned the constitutionality of the bill but so far has not opposed the measure because it said the bill appeared to be narrowly drawn.”

While this idea that it may be narrowly construed on the basis of other exceptions to the 4th Amendment may be so, it appears to be just another effort to chip away at those rights. When combined with the recent SCOTUS decision on giving police leeway in home searches ( http://lat.ms/kSizRU), any advances in 4th Amend. rights that might have been made by Sen. Leahy’s updating of the ECPA have been obliterated, turning the 4th Amend. into more of a novelty than something truly enforceable. At this stage, our country should just stop embarrassing itself and remove it from the Constitution altogether. We can explain to our kids that the reason the Amendments go from the 3rd to the 5th is that now that we have absolute trust in our gov’t and corporations, we no longer need it 😉

Damn shameful what’s happening.

Chris Rhodes (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I’ve noticed how anyone who is conservative or right of centre doesn’t give a damn about anything but that enormous pile of money they worship.

Clearly, painting 50% of the US population as evil with one brush stroke is an entirely rationale position founded in fact. Now all we need is some birther to come in here and claim that “‘dem liber-UH-ls are destroying our country!”, and the ignorant, partisan, internet hackery will have come full circle.

AG Wright (profile) says:

Bill of Rights

Come on people that whole Bill of Rights thing is so 18th century. It’s been ignored over and over in US history and we’re still here as a nation.
A steady erosion of rights in the USA is so much a necessity in our fight for profits and against terrorism, this is partly about terrorism you know and think of the children. The pedophiles are involved here somewhere, I just know it.

Josh Taylor says:

Next thing as I mentioned, The RIAA will demand Congress to make it mandatory to have DRM Thought Police Chips implanted in the brains of American Citizens just in case we sing, hum, think of, or remember a copyrighted song.

I pray and hope that we escape this twisted RIAA totalitarian mind controlling DRM chip regime on May 21 this Friday.

Beta (profile) says:

nice plant you got here

“We’re literally talking about walking into a plant, walking up to the line and ensuring that, indeed, the discs are in compliance… I don’t think the scope of the search is something a regulator needs to be worried about.”

“Oh, we got a problem here. These discs don’t look compliant. Yeah, you got way too many of ’em here, they don’t got our seal of approval or nothing, this whole operation got a infringey look. Now you just have a seat while we go through your computer and — is that your locker? Calm down sir, I don’t think this is something you need to worry about.”

ofb2632 (profile) says:

Search the RIAA

for now, they RIAA has tons of support from all the bribes, but there may be a time, hopefully soon, when they have someone in the Govt with power that does not like them. I say search the RIAA and see just how many bribes they have given out to get the results they always want. See how many torrents they themselves have posted just to whine and bitch about it later.
I would love to know how many companies they have hired to put out false torrents with the same name as the movie the RIAA has at the movie theater, then force the RIAA to explain how come it is illegal to download the movie torrent when they are themselves paying companies to put them out there. All of this information is on the RIAA computers.
I think the RIAA should sign an agreement to voluntarily forgo the protections of the 4th Amendment. Mabe then we will take them seriously.

FUDbuster (profile) says:

I’m not sure this warrantless search violates the Fourth Amendment. Recall that the Amendment allows warrantless searches in certain circumstances, including some administrative searches, so long as they are “reasonable.” From the Supreme Court:

Because the owner or operator of commercial premises in a ?closely regulated? industry has a reduced expectation of privacy, the warrant and probable-cause requirements, which fulfill the traditional Fourth Amendment standard of reasonableness for a government search, see O’Connor v. Ortega, 480 U.S. 709, 741, 107 S.Ct. 1492, —-, 94 L.Ed.2d 714 (1987) (dissenting opinion), have lessened application in this context. Rather, we conclude that, as in other situations of ?special need,? see New Jersey v. T.L.O., 469 U.S. 325, 353, 105 S.Ct. 733, 750, 83 L.Ed.2d 720 (1985) (opinion concurring in judgment), where the privacy interests of the owner are **2644 weakened and the government interests in regulating particular businesses are concomitantly heightened, a warrantless inspection of commercial premises may well be reasonable within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment.

This warrantless inspection, however, even in the context of a pervasively regulated business, will be deemed to be reasonable only so long as three criteria are met. First, there must be a ?substantial? government interest that informs the regulatory scheme pursuant to which the inspection is made. See Donovan v. Dewey, 452 U.S., at 602, 101 S.Ct., at 2540 (?substantial federal interest in improving the health and safety conditions in the Nation’s underground and surface mines?); United States v. Biswell, 406 U.S., at 315, 92 S.Ct., at 1596 (regulation of firearms is ?of central importance to federal efforts to prevent violent crime and to assist the States in regulating the firearms traffic within their borders?); Colonnade Corp. v. United States, 397 U.S., at 75, 90 S.Ct., at 776 (federal interest ?in protecting the revenue against various types of fraud?).

Second, the warrantless inspections must be ?necessary to further [the] regulatory scheme.? Donovan v. Dewey, 452 U.S., at 600, 101 S.Ct., at 2539. For example, in Dewey we recognized that forcing mine inspectors to obtain a warrant before every inspection *703 might alert mine owners or operators to the impending inspection, thereby frustrating the purposes of the Mine Safety and Health Act-to detect and thus to deter safety and health violations. Id., at 603, 101 S.Ct., at 2540.

Finally, ?the statute’s inspection program, in terms of the certainty and regularity of its application, [must] provid[e] a constitutionally adequate substitute for a warrant.? Ibid. In other words, the regulatory statute must perform the two basic functions of a warrant: it must advise the owner of the commercial premises that the search is being made pursuant to the law and has a properly defined scope, and it must limit the discretion of the inspecting officers. See Marshall v. Barlow’s, Inc., 436 U.S., at 323, 98 S.Ct., at 1826; see also id., at 332, 98 S.Ct., at 1830 (STEVENS, J., dissenting). To perform this first function, the statute must be ?sufficiently comprehensive and defined that the owner of commercial property cannot help but be aware that his property will be subject to periodic inspections undertaken for specific purposes.? Donovan v. Dewey, 452 U.S., at 600, 101 S.Ct., at 2539. In addition, in defining how a statute limits the discretion of the inspectors, we have observed that it must be ?carefully limited in time, place, and scope.? United States v. Biswell, 406 U.S., at 315, 92 S.Ct., at 1596.

New York v. Burger, 482 U.S. 691, 702-03, 107 S. Ct. 2636, 2643-44, 96 L. Ed. 2d 601 (1987).

Do these searches meet this test? That’s the question. It’s not as simple as warrantless search = Fourth Amendment violation, IMO.

Chris Rhodes (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I’m not sure this warrantless search violates the Fourth Amendment. Recall that the Amendment allows warrantless searches in certain circumstances, including some administrative searches, so long as they are “reasonable.” From the Supreme Court:

I think you’re confusing the constitution with the supreme court.

G Thompson (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Mike,
something screwy with your commenting times here.. this post states 12:07pm, mine directly below and in same leaf of thread, says 10:46pm. and this comment was already here before I posted.

Do Anons have diff Time base? or did the server reboot? or have I gone through a time loop without knowing about it.. damn what were those lotto numbers again 😉

G Thompson (profile) says:

Re: Re:

The 4th has always intrigued me, though like any right it has to have reasonableness built into it to avoid confliction with any other right, either natural or statutory. Also not being a US citizen its interesting the current debates on the 4th and 1st (don’t get me started on the 2nd though.. that one is just weird) from an outside looking in perspective.

A few questions though from reading the above

Is the DVD/CD Industries (Publication, Manufacturing, or other) regulated in any way by government.

If regulated is it any different from the standard business regulations that any corporation has under law. In other words is it a substantial regulatory regime?

If substantially different does it have factors that are there to mitigate against negligent (known or unknown) that could cause immense safety, health or financial damage to the public ‘at large’.

If all the above are true is the regulatory regime a State or Federally mandated regime? If State does the supremacy rule of Federal Govt effect the regulations

Unless all of the above are positive and there is no Federal v. State problem then I cannot see this law being passed, and if passed I can see it being held as unlawful, unequitable, and most likely conflicts with already available warrant abilities.

Also I can only see a need for this based on the idea that evidence could be destroyed if warrants are applied for first.

Isn’t there already a process by which if probable cause exists an Impoundment order (we call them Anton Piller orders) could be applied for and carried out to stop potential destruction of relevant evidence?

Though Anton Piller Orders must here meet three rigorous tests that place a heavy burden on applicants, being:
* A prima facia case that is extemely strong
* Any damage must be both serious and reasonably expected to occur
* A real possibility that any evidence, and that the evidence exists in Respondents possession, may be destroyed before any inter partes application can be initiated

There is also the further burden on the applicant that they must put forth any likely counter arguments of the respondents as though the respondents were present to oppose said order. Not to mention a penalties that can be applied by courts on applicant if any breaches occur.. Sort of like an AntiSLAP situation.

Raphael (profile) says:

Re: Re: We're not doing away with free speech

Exactly. And we see how well privatization has worked for national security. It’s become extremely responsive to oversight and regulation. Remember when Blackwater guys shot all those Iraqi civilians because they were pissed off about being stuck in traffic? Well, Congress started an investigation and bam! Blackwater changed its name to Xe overnight! What government agency would give you a response that fast?

Anonymous Coward says:

33 is a good comment reflecting that the 4th Amendment has never been an absolute. Even those who regularly deal with constitutional law, the ACLU included, recognize this to be the case.

Ultimately, constitutionality will be measured against whatever is contained in any legislation that may pass into law as a California statute.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

You raise a point that is generally overlooked in discussions of constitutional law.

It is not at all unusual for a state to have constitutional provisions that are more stringent than the US Constitution. A statute can pass federal muster, and yet fall flat on its face under in state courts.

Federalism is not dead, though it might seem otherwise subsequent to Lochner.

Chris Rhodes (profile) says:

The 4th Is Already Dead

Not only did the US supreme court say this week that the police can themselves create the exigent circumstances necessary to enter private property without a warrant, but the Indiana supreme court declared it illegal to resist the entry of law enforcement onto private property, even if that entry is itself unlawful.

Put two an two together, and not only can the police manufacture themselves a de-facto warrant at will, but even if they don’t there’s nothing you can do about it anyway. Eat it, serf.

harbingerofdoom (profile) says:

while this is quite the radical thinking, perhaps its time to wholesale change over the entire government.

do not vote for anyone currently in office or anyone that has previously been in office during the next election. 100% every elected position and then run up to the first news camera and tell them you voted against this kind of crap.

granted, you would have to have 75% of the voters (no, not those, the ones that actually vote) to go along with it and there is way to much self identity for people who are obsessed with partisan politics to work… but i think its something that would make them sit up and take notice.

agh3 says:

Not just RIAA..watch out in Indiana

http://www.nwitimes.com/news/local/govt-and-politics/article_ec169697-a19e-525f-a532-81b3df229697.html

INDIANAPOLIS | Overturning a common law dating back to the English Magna Carta of 1215, the Indiana Supreme Court ruled Thursday that Hoosiers have no right to resist unlawful police entry into their homes.
In a 3-2 decision, Justice Steven David writing for the court said if a police officer wants to enter a home for any reason or no reason at all, a homeowner cannot do anything to block the officer’s entry.

Jay Dea says:

I have the answer; but not for creationists...on second thought...

Our democracy has evolved to a point where all searches by the government are reasonable. How could a search not be reasonable ? signatures of believers are needed to proceed with any search. We live in an evolved incorruptible democracy pwned by corporate sponsors. BTW did anyone watch Jon Stewart regarding the FCC. Funny stuff.

In the ‘extremely rare’ chance a search was not reasonable it might be too late. The government most likely would have already provided information to the corporate media to assist in the process of Justice and fairness to all parties involved –sarcasm intended-.

Rekrul says:

The part that gets me, and which most people seem to have overlooked is the fact that this law would allow police to conduct warrantless searches of CD/DVD manufacturing plants without any probably cause. Think about that for a moment. If there’s no probably cause, why would they be searching the plant in the first place?

Unless I’m missing something, it sounds like the RIAA/MPAA want the police to conduct regular, unannounced inspections. In other words, rather than investigating any alleged crime, they want the police to literally become their own private security force, taking time out from catching real criminals to perform the kind of inspections that the entertainment industry should be doing themselves.

Anonymous Coward says:

Spammers. All of them.

The RIAA, MPAA and drones (mediasentry et al) are spamming us like hell. There is no law against copyright here. There is no DMCA. It’s perfectly legal to run a torrent tracker that hosts copyright material.

So since we don’t, and won’t, pass on the complaints to the customers, they simply flood us with about 5-25 copies of every single complaint. Great strategy. So now they’re being reported to spamcop, barracuda networks, and Cisco as spammers.

Others should do the same. Identify the offending source IP/email, set auto redirect to your account, and let’s try to get them blacklisted.

That way they won’t be able to send out bogus DMCA notices and try to scare people into paying. Bastards. I’ve made it a goal to distribute as many copyrighted material as long as the law allows me to. So far so good. Eat that, retards.

Shawn says:

RIAA Calls 4th Amendment Passe: Pushes For Warrantless Searches

Why don’t we allow them to take over the inspections of nuclear and top secret facilities while we are at it? How about they just walk into Congress and take a big dump on the Speaker’s desk too?

Maybe that isn’t enough – perhaps we need to give them powers of arrest, a pair of handcuffs, and a big stick so they can go around, arrest people at random?

Someone or some entity seriously needs to put the RIAA in it’s place – a tactical nuke would suffice.

Adrian says:

Alex Padilla has strong motives for authoring bills like this. Here are just a few of them:

(Campaign contributions Alex Padilla Has received – not complete)

RECORDING INDUSTRY ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA PAC WASHINGTON DC / 20036-0000ID NUMBER EMPLOYER OCCUPATION943103 AMOUNT TYPE TRANS. DATE FILED DATE TRANS #$1,000.00 INITIAL 10/29/2010 10/29/2010 1539329-C7418

WARNER BROS. ENTERTAINMENT INC. BURBANK CA / 91522-0000ID NUMBER EMPLOYER OCCUPATIONAMOUNT TYPE TRANS. DATE FILED DATE TRANS #$1,100.00 INITIAL 5/14/2010 5/14/2010 1487977-C6994NAME OF CONTRIBUTOR CITY STATE/ZIP

WARNER BROS. ENTERTAINMENT INC. BURBANK CA / 91522-0000ID NUMBER EMPLOYER OCCUPATIONAMOUNT TYPE TRANS. DATE FILED DATE TRANS #$1,400.00 INITIAL 5/14/2010 5/14/2010 1487977-C6993

DISNEY WORLDWIDE SERVICES, INC. BURBANK CA / 91521-0000ID NUMBER EMPLOYER OCCUPATIONAMOUNT TYPE TRANS. DATE FILED DATE TRANS #$100.00 INITIAL 5/14/2010 5/14/2010 1487977-C6992NAME OF CONTRIBUTOR CITY STATE/ZIP

DISNEY WORLDWIDE SERVICES, INC. BURBANK CA / 91521-0000ID NUMBER EMPLOYER OCCUPATIONAMOUNT TYPE TRANS. DATE FILED DATE TRANS #$1,900.00 INITIAL 5/14/2010 5/14/2010 1487977-C6991NAME OF CONTRIBUTOR CITY STATE/ZIP

MOTION PICTURE ASSN. OF AMERICA CA PAC ENCINO CA / 91436-0000ID NUMBER EMPLOYER OCCUPATION901889 AMOUNT TYPE TRANS. DATE FILED DATE TRANS #$100.00 INITIAL 5/14/2010 5/14/2010 1487977-C6990

MOTION PICTURE ASSN. OF AMERICA CA PAC ENCINO CA / 91436-0000ID NUMBER EMPLOYER OCCUPATION901889 AMOUNT TYPE TRANS. DATE FILED DATE TRANS #$900.00 INITIAL 5/14/2010 5/14/2010 1487977-C2047

DISNEY WORLDWIDE SERVICES, INC. MONETARY BURBANK CA/91521ID NUMBER EMPLOYER OCCUPATIONAMOUNT TRANS. DATE FILED_DATE TRANS #
$2,000.00 8/24/2007 3/24/2008 1311371-C4055

SONY PICTURES ENT., INC. MONETARY CULVER CITY CA/90232
ID NUMBER EMPLOYER OCCUPATION
AMOUNT TRANS. DATE FILED_DATE TRANS #
$1,000.00 8/24/2007 3/24/2008 1311371-C4056

MOTION PICTURE ASSN. OF AMERICA CA PAC MONETARY ENCINO CA/91436
ID NUMBER EMPLOYER OCCUPATION
901889
AMOUNT TRANS. DATE FILED_DATE TRANS #
$1,000.00 8/28/2007 3/24/2008 1311371-C4060

PARAMOUNT PICTURES GROUP MONETARY LOS ANGELES CA/90038
ID NUMBER EMPLOYER OCCUPATION
AMOUNT TRANS. DATE FILED_DATE TRANS #
$1,000.00 8/29/2007 3/24/2008 1311371-C4070

Add Your Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Comment Options:

Make this the or (get credits or sign in to see balance) what's this?

What's this?

Techdirt community members with Techdirt Credits can spotlight a comment as either the "First Word" or "Last Word" on a particular comment thread. Credits can be purchased at the Techdirt Insider Shop »

Follow Techdirt

Techdirt Daily Newsletter

Techdirt Deals
Techdirt Insider Discord
The latest chatter on the Techdirt Insider Discord channel...
Loading...