Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Recording Industry Pushes for California Antipiracy Bill That Would Allow Warrantless Arrests

The recording industry is promoting support for an antipiracy bill introduced by a California senator which promises to undermine civil rights. The bill would allow warrantless searches of optical disc plants, and will allow the seizing of CDs and disk stamping equipment without a warrant.

The bill, SB 550, which has been proposed by State Sen. Alex Padilla, Democrat-Pacoima will make civil liberties groups and California criminal defense attorneys nervous, because of the manner in which it seems to exempt searches from any application of the Fourth Amendment. The Fourth Amendment requires probable cause before a search, and the bill would eliminate any such need.

Under SB 550, police would be able to force replicators to comply with existing laws. Violators would be hit with fines of up to $250,000 for a repeat offense. The measure has already cleared the Committee on Public Safety and has also passed the Appropriations Committee.

The bill has been heavily promoted by the Recording Industry Association of America, which claims that music piracy has sounded the death knell for the industry. The industry has suffered heavy losses because of rampant piracy, and representatives say that nothing seems to help contain the problem. They allege that many of the country’s replicator plants are located in California. These plants are mainly involved in copying disks with educational and religious content, but according to the recording industry, many of them also make counterfeit music discs on the side. According to the recording industry, about 90% of counterfeited discs come from replicator plants.

California alone is home to 70 such plants. In fact, the recording industry says that as many as 70 million counterfeit music discs every year are pressed in California alone.

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