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Government Crime Piracy Privacy The Courts United States

RIAA-Backed Warrantless Search Bill In California 208

lordvramir writes "If you run a CD or DVD duplication company and you're based in California, you may soon be subject to warrantless searches in order to 'fight piracy.' California Senate Bill 550, introduced by Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima), has slowly begun making its way through the state legislature as a way to cut down on counterfeit discs, but critics worry that it may open the door to Fourth Amendment violations." This fits in well with other recent moves to neuter the Fourth Amendment.
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RIAA-Backed Warrantless Search Bill In California

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  • by gestalt_n_pepper ( 991155 ) on Thursday May 19, 2011 @02:07PM (#36182252)

    than suppressing music and movie piracy? Those individual rights ideas in the constitution that we inherited from the Magna Carta just make that soooooo... difficult.

    Excuse me, I have to go wipe up some of that sarcasm that's dripping on the floor here.

  • by Grond ( 15515 ) on Thursday May 19, 2011 @02:26PM (#36182520) Homepage

    For decades the Supreme Court has recognized the constitutionality of warrantless administrative inspections of closely regulated businesses with a long tradition of close government supervision. "Certain industries have such a history of government oversight that no reasonable expectation of privacy could exist for a proprietor over the stock of such an enterprise." Marshall v. Barlow's, Inc., 436 U.S. 307, 313 (1978). This has come to be called the Colonnade-Biswell doctrine, after the cases of Colonnade Corp. v. United States and United States v. Biswell. Industries in which warrantless searches have been approved include pawn shops that sell firearms (the Biswell case), liquor stores (the Colonnade case), quarries, and automobile junkyards.

    However, even if warrantless searches of CD duplication businesses are allowable as a threshold matter, there are still three important limits on those searches. First, there must be a substantial government interest that informs the regulatory scheme pursuant to which the inspection is made. Second, the warrantless inspections must be necessary to further the regulatory scheme. Third, the statute's inspection program, in terms of the certainty and regularity of its application, must provide a constitutionally adequate substitute for a warrant. 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 New York v. Burger, 482 US 691, 702-03 (1987).

    Here, it's not clear to me that CD duplication businesses are closely regulated businesses with a tradition of close government supervision. It's possible that the copyright laws (particularly the criminal copyright laws) amount to such regulation, but in my opinion it would be a close case. In most cases there is some kind of government licensing regime, and I don't think a license is required to operate a CD duplicating business. But it's important to note the limits on those searches that would still be in place even if they are allowed.

  • by profplump ( 309017 ) <> on Thursday May 19, 2011 @02:35PM (#36182628)

    You would assume wrong. Warrants are required to enter commercial property, including workplaces. This applies to OSHA, fire inspections, etc., and has been tested in federal court (Marshall v. Barlow’s, Inc). There are cases where a business must subject itself to an inspection in order to qualify for a license or other certification. But that's the business owner requesting an inspection, not the government demanding one, and a failure to allow the inspection results in a failure to issue the license, not in a mandatory inspection or seizure of property. It works just like electrical inspections in your home -- when you have new work done, you must request an inspection, and a failure to pass an inspection might lead to your property being condemned, but at no point in the process are you required to submit to a search/inspection, and you if you choose to allow one you can prepare for it and limit the scope of the inspection to the relevant portions of your home.

    If law enforcement has probable cause to believe that a business is participating in copyright infringement that can *already* get a warrant. No new law is needed to authorize that action. This law would mean that they don't need probable cause and can just come in and hassle legitimate business owners while threatening to seize the equipment necessary for their day-to-day operations, which doesn't sound much like justice to me.

  • Re:What the hell? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Seumas ( 6865 ) on Thursday May 19, 2011 @02:39PM (#36182688)

    Just google "cops warrant wrong house" for an endless flood of no-knock warrant stories where cops broke down the door of the wrong house. They often end with an innocent citizen (of course, until convicted, aren't they ALL innocent?) being shot or even killed or with a home owner defending themselves against the home invasion by shooting the police (which never works out well for the victim). []

  • I thought the Dems were all about personality andshit. Fuck whoever you want in the ass wherever you want using government condems.

    So now they want to fuck everyone in the ass with taxes and no warrent searches.

    Had enough Change yet?

    This is not really a republican or democrat idea but a recent trend of infringement on American's Fourth Amendment. Indiana has recently passed a bill to have warentless searches. If a police officer suspects any "Funny business" of any sort, they can intrude without a warent. This is fine and dandy when an actual crime is happening, but they can do it at any time, and if you resist in Indiana, you can be arrested for impeding an officer's investigation. If you attack an officer while he/she barges in because you are trying to protect your property, you will be charged with Assault of an Officer (which is a federal crime). It has passed in Indiana, and it is has set forth for similar laws in Texas, California, and anyone else. If someone suspects that you are doing something bad or wrong, they can call the cops and infringe on your fourth amendment.

    This is a recent bill passed in indy, so it can be overturned if it is taken to to the feds, but hasn't yet. []

  • Re:What the hell? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Seumas ( 6865 ) on Thursday May 19, 2011 @02:45PM (#36182792)

    Where is this list of politicians who don't feel that their constituency is just a power pool to fuel their own personal selfish motivations and goals?

    Also, where is the statement in the Constitution that says rights are granted by this "God" fellow? The closest I'm aware of is all men being created equal, endowed by their creator (where creator is clearly intentionally open and vague to be interpreted by each individual as is appropriate to them - including sensibly metaphorically).

    Also, it is false to say that our "rights" are somehow granted by a mythological sky-person. The fact is that they ARE granted by the government. In the days when Kings owned all the land and you were allowed to live and toil on their land, you were subject to their whims. Today, you are subject to the government's whims. Ostensibly, that means the whims of your fellow man, but in practice it's more of a limited control by aristocracy than "fellow man". At any rate, if you have some inherent right to speak freely and posses a weapon, I suggest you think again. Any right that I feel is a basic right of a human being and that I currently enjoy the freedom to exercise is done so only because the government hasn't taken it away from me. They could come in tomorrow and shut me up and take my gun or even take my life and there isn't a fucking thing I could do about it, because I'm one person and I don't own nukes or tanks or bombs or assault rifles or have a military or an entire court and legal team on my payroll.

  • Re:What the hell? (Score:3, Informative)

    by querist ( 97166 ) on Thursday May 19, 2011 @03:04PM (#36183050) Homepage
    The idea is in the Declaration of Independence, not the Constitution. First line of the second paragraph: "... that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, ... " (
  • by Grond ( 15515 ) on Thursday May 19, 2011 @03:09PM (#36183096) Homepage

    Businesses are not people, they don't have any rights against warrantless search.

    This is completely false. "The Court long has recognized that the Fourth Amendment's prohibition on unreasonable searches and seizures is applicable to commercial premises, as well as to private homes. An owner or operator of a business thus has an expectation of privacy in commercial property, which society is prepared to consider to be reasonable." New York v. Burger, 482 US 691, 699 (1987).

You know, Callahan's is a peaceable bar, but if you ask that dog what his favorite formatter is, and he says "roff! roff!", well, I'll just have to...