A piece of legislation progressing through California's legislature has one feature that criminal defense attorneys in New Jersey and around the country would find disconcerting. The bill would allow warrantless searches of replicator plants that are believed to produce pirated music discs.
The bill is being strongly supported by the Recording Industry Association of America. The bill would give law enforcement officers the power to enter replicator plants without any warrants or court orders. The officers would be allowed to look for pirated discs to make sure that they have legal identification marks, without possessing any warrant to do so.
California is the birthplace of the bill because it is, according to the sponsors of the bill, a hotbed of piracy activity in the country. The state is home to more than 70 replicator plants, most of which are engaged in legitimate activities. However, according to the Recording Industry Association of America, many of these plants are also engaged in producing pirated music discs. The bill would allow law enforcement officers to enter these plants without a court order and conduct warrantless searches, seizing any evidence in the process.
The Recording Industry Association of America is using a fall in revenues, allegedly due to piracy, as the basis for its support of the bill. According to the group, music piracy has resulted in an 82% drop in sales of CDs over the past decade alone. There are a number of other reasons for the decline in sales of CDs, including the popularity of video streaming and downloads. However, the recording industry insists that the drop has been entirely due to piracy.
Any move anywhere in the country that seeks to overrule civil liberties in the name of justice should be strongly opposed by any New Jersey criminal defense attorney.
The law firm of Helmer Paul Conley and Kasselman has an experienced civil law team that represents businesses and individuals whose rights have been violated by illegal searches.