NYT on RIAA raid of DJs Drama and Cannon: a legal question

This recent New York Times piece explores the much-blogged RIAA raid of popular hip-hop producers DJ Drama and DJ Cannon in Atlanta. But check out these grafs:

Later that night, a reporter for the local Fox TV station, Stacey Elgin, delivered a report on the raid from the darkened street in front of the studio. She announced that the owners of the studio, known professionally as DJ Drama and DJ Don Cannon, were arrested for making "illegal CDs." The report cut to an interview with Matthew Kilgo, an official with the Recording Industry Association of America, who was involved in the raid. The R.I.A.A., a trade and lobbying group that represents the major American record labels, works closely with the Department of Justice and local police departments to crack down on illegal downloading and music piracy, which most record-company executives see as a dire threat to their business.

Kilgo works in the R.I.A.A.'s Atlanta office, and in the weeks before the raid, the local police chief said, R.I.A.A. investigators helped the police collect evidence and conduct surveillance at the studio. Kilgo consulted with the R.I.A.A.'s national headquarters in advance of the raid, and after the raid, a team of men wearing R.I.A.A. jackets was responsible for boxing the CDs and carting them to a warehouse for examination.

Link (reg-free) to story (Thanks to the many people who suggested this!).

So, Jim Burrows asks:

Is it common practice to allow a private non governmental organization access to the private property sized by court order? So far as I know R.I.A.A, is not affiliated nor proscribed to act in any official capacity yet they were given unsupervised access to the property of the defendants.

That's a question I'd imagine many people would like to know. Law scholars, feel free to chime in: Link. Here's a related thread on Slashdot: Link.

IMAGE: Jessica Dimmock for The New York Times. "The Aphilliates' inner circle, in their Atlanta studio, from left: Willie the Kid, DJ Drama, Jay Stevenson (the studio engineer), DJ Sense, DJ Don Cannon."

Reader comment: Mithras Invicti says,

I am a blogger and lawyer in Philadelphia and wanted to respond to your post "NYT on RIAA raid of DJs Drama and Cannon: a legal question". It's commonplace for third parties to work with law enforcement, especially in the case of investigations where the police don't have the necessary expertise themselves. For example, in a previous career as an accountant, I accompanied police executing a search warrant on a government office from which they were seeking certain kinds of financial records. I examined the material they were searching, and told them which of it was applicable to the case and which wasn't. In that case, I was under contract with the District Attorney's office, and that contract specified that I was not to reveal anything I learned except in court.

I know of other people who, on a contractual or volunteer basis, assist law enforcement in crimes involving computers or other technology they have expertise in. As despicable as the RIAA is, I am frankly not surprised they were involved with the raid mentioned in the post.