One of the many things that makes the United States such a great place are its laws protecting individual freedom and privacy. One of my favorites is the 4th Amendment. That’s the one which forbids unreasonable search and seizures. In practical application it says the government can’t break into your house or your private property and run off with your stuff without a warrant. If the police suspect you’re hiding dead bodies, or cooking meth in your basement, they can’t just bust in. The police have to go to a judge and get him to sign off on it. This creates an extra layer of protection, ensuring that you aren’t unduly harassed by overzealous (or possibly even corrupt) law enforcement officials. Basically, the cops need some sort of reason before they can go rifling through your record collection and reading your diary. Unless, of course, the MPAA says they don’t have to.

Wired and numerous other sources report that California is working on passing legislation which would allow law enforcement officials to enter factories and seize disc stamping equipment or pirated movies and music on discs, without the need for a warrant. Basically they can strap on some body armor and come charging on to your private property any time they want, as long as the RIAA or the MPAA thinks you may have something to do with movie or music piracy.

The move is being justified in the name of protecting California’s struggling economy. State Sen. Alex Padilla says, “The crime of illegal mass reproduction of music and movies is a serious problem. Last year alone, more than 820,000 illegal discs were seized by law enforcement authorities in California.” The legislation in question has already passed two state Senate committees and goes up for a vote in another one, this week.

The RIAA and the MPAA are, of course, out in strong support of this measure which also includes a provision for fines of up to $250,000. The legislation specifically targets “replicator plants” which are believed to be responsible for 90% of all the illegal discs floating out there. This begs the question… who still watches pirated DVDs? There’s this thing called the internet. Maybe you’ve heard of it?

Don’t worry, they haven’t forgotten about your computer. Federal legislation allowing the government to sue “infringing websites” is already underway.

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