Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and many other social media platforms each have copyright rules that stop content from being posted by a user who is not the creator. Activists claim it is that policy some police officers might be leaning on to avoid viral videos of police misconduct.
George Floyd, Eric Garner, even Rodney King in the 1990s– their cases likely would not be known to the world as they are now, if it were not for a citizen pressing ‘record.’ It’s why a whistleblower is upset with a pattern they’ve found in a California police department.
In the most recent video from January, a Beverly Hills officer begins playing Beatles music while an activist records him, according to Vice News. The music playing reportedly happened on at least three separate occasions and some believe the officer is trying to trigger a possible copyright violation to keep the video from going viral or posted altogether.
“If they do not want to be held accountable, they should find another line of work,” said NAACP Atlanta President Richard Rose. He told CBS46 cell phones have been lights illuminating problems that could otherwise remain in the dark. “Body camera is a great start but bear in mind, we find that when policemen have the option to turn these body cameras on, they will not.”
Veteran deputy turned training officer Vince Champion offered another perspective.
“I feel bad that people feel they need to record us,” Champion added.
He’s also the local representative for the International Brotherhood of Police Officers. The officer argued when a citizen’s video goes viral, it often only shows a portion of the encounter and invites the public to instantly issue judgment before an investigation is complete. However, Champion also says officers should behave as if someone is always watching.
“If someone wants to record you, let them,” Champion said. “Just do your job and move forward.”
Playing music could be a seemingly sneaky tactic to dodge transparency, but local lawyer Amanda Hyland confirmed with CBS46 that fair use laws can often hold police accountable. Hyland believes in this case, fair use would be applicable.
“Incidental music playing in the background or it was so newsworthy it was important to capture this event even though copyrighted music play — I would think this could clearly qualify.”
Additionally, Hyland noted even if a social media algorithm forced a post’s removal due to copyright violation, it doesn’t mean that original post or video cannot be used in a court case or an agency’s investigation.
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