We have watched as lobbyists for RIAA and other companies have steadily increased trademark and copyright limitations, including new criminal penalties. Now, State. Sen. Alex Padilla (D., Los Angeles), has sponsored RIAA legislation in California that would allow law enforcement to enter optical-disc plants and seize disc-stamping equipment, and pirated movie and music discs without a court warrant.
Padilla agrees with RIAA that the pesky warrant clause is just an inconvenience when it comes to protecting the property interests of these companies. He is advancing legislation demanded by the Motion Picture Association of America and the Recording Industry Association of America. The legislation would also allow for fines of up to $250,000. The legislation, which is up for a vote in another Senate committee next week, comes as the federal government is also cracking down on pirated goods.
On both the state and federal levels, politicians are yielding to sweeping demands from RIAA and other groups to add draconian penalties and reduce protections for accused citizens. They continue this trend despite widespread criticism over abusive lawsuits and demands by the industry.
These industry groups routinely hire legislators and staff for lucrative positions after they have worked on such legislation. Recently, there was a controversy over a RIAA lawyer who was put on the federal bench and then ruled in favor of the industry in some of these controversial lawsuits.
They include Dan Glickman, a former member of Congress and head of MPAA, who earns $1,280,000 plus another $32,800 in other benefits and allowances. I like Glickman (who is a GW graduate) but these groups hold out the promise of great opportunities for both staff and members as well as huge campaign contribution funds.
Now it appears that even the fourth amendment is considered a minor matter in the rush to advance these interests. I am sympathetic to the needs of the industry to stop pirating. Such pirating hurts the economy as well as the legitimate property interests of this industry. However, I am increasingly concerned over the lack of balance in this debate and lack of scrutiny given these new sweeping laws.