Warrantless Search Bill Backed by RIAA Advances in California

Warrantless Search Bill Backed by RIAA Advances in California



People who run a CD or DVD duplication company in California may soon be subject to a warrantless search in the quest to “fight piracy.” California Senate Bill 550, which was introduced by Sen. Alex Padilla, a Democrat from Pacoima, is gradually making its way through the state legislature. The purpose of the measure is to cut down on counterfeit CD or DVD. However, some critics worry that the measure may open the door to violations of the Fourth Amendment.

At present, California commercial disc manufacturers must stamp unique identifiers on the surface of their products as a way to make commercial products separate and distinct from counterfeits. DVD or CD discs that do not have these identifiers are deemed illegal, while those who mass produce knockoff CDs or DVDs for the black market can already be chased as criminals under existing law.

But, mere possession of equipment or devices that can press discs without the unique identifiers is not yet considered as illegal. Sen. Padilla’s proposed measure would make it unlawful for someone who owns a commercial manufacturing plant to possess or operate any equipment or device that does not stamp the appropriate mark on the discs, or any equipment that can forge the mark.

Nevertheless, the most controversial part of SB550 is its provisions that would allow authorities to inspect disc replication facilities without a warrant to verify that the law is being observed at these manufacturing sites. Law mandates that inspections must be conducted during regular business hours. However, if government authorities find equipment that they suspect is used in non-legitimate purposes, it can immediately be confiscated.