RIAA Law Lets Law Enforcement Ignore 4th Amendment, Search Private Property With No Warrants
from the the-infringement-police dept
The question has come up whether a guild master of the weaving industry should be allowed to try an innovation in his product. The verdict: 'If a cloth weaver intends to process a piece according to his own invention, he must not set it on the loom, but should obtain permission from the judges of the town to employ the number and length of threads that he desires, after the question has been considered by four of the oldest merchants and four of the oldest weavers of the guild.' One can imagine how many suggestions for change were tolerated.It's not hard to see the RIAA or the MPAA in that description of the old guilds, and it seems like they're trying to take the comparison even further. As we covered back in May, the RIAA has been pushing really, really hard for California to pass a law that would allow for warrantless searches of private property, specifically of anyone involved in reproducing CDs or DVDs for "commercial" purposes. The RIAA was so cavalier about this, that a spokesperson even said: "I don't think the scope of the search is something a regulator needs to be worried about." In other words, no government oversight. Just go ahead and search private businesses.
Shortly after the matter of cloth weaving has been disposed of, the button makers guild raises a cry of outrage; the tailors are beginning to make buttons out of cloth, an unheard-of thing. The government, indignant that an innovation should threaten a settled industry, imposes a fine on the cloth-button makers. But the wardens of the button guild are not yet satisfied. They demand the right to search people's homes and wardrobes and fine and even arrest them on the streets if they are seen wearing these subversive goods."
This seemed to be so obviously against the 4th Amendment that it seemed ridiculous that anyone would seriously consider such a bill. So, of course, Governor Jerry Brown of California just signed it into law. The law decimates the 4th Amendment, and says that law enforcement has the right to search the premises of anyone making optical discs for commercial purposes, without any warning or warrant. Hell, even the state's own analysis of the bill warns that it's not sure that the bill "would stand up to constitutional scrutiny."
It's beginning to sound like the French button makers guild getting to enter your homes and closets to find those dreaded "non-compliant" buttons. It's getting so ridiculous that even those who are generally supporters of the RIAA/MPAA's positions are saying this bill goes way too far, noting that it grants way too much power to law enforcement (often at the urging of private industry) to go on "fishing expeditions" at companies they dislike. And let's not even get started on what kind of precedent it sets when you can so easily remove the Constitutional requirement for a warrant.