Frustrated for years by rampant piracy, the recording industry is pushing California’s lawmakers to approve legislation that would allow warrantless searches of companies that press copies of compact discs and DVDs, reports the Los Angeles Times. The Recording Industry Association of America, in effect, wants to give law enforcement officials the power to enter manufacturing plants without notice or court orders to check that discs are legitimate and carry legally required identification marks.
The proposal is raising questions among U.S. constitutional law scholars as it quietly moves through the Legislature. “I can understand why this makes people nervous,” said Laurie Levenson, a law professor at Loyola Law School of Los Angeles. “We have the 4th Amendment that generally requires probable cause [for a search]. This is a huge exception.” But the RIAA, which went on a well-publicized campaign eight years ago to sue individuals who shared music illegally online, argued that piracy has devastated the industry and nothing else has worked to stem the illegal activity. Net sales of CDs fell 82% in the last decade. There are an estimated 70 sophisticated replicator plants in the California that use state-of-the-art optical reading equipment to produce up to 85% of the counterfeit CDs nationwide.