We decided to create this Legal Issues forums page because many video producers are discussing legalities like copyright and fair use, as well as access. There there are encounters with public officials that can get you arrested!
Lately, we've written several stories and blogs in our magazine and on our website about police and other government authorities in the U.S. trying to keep people from video recording their actions.
People have been arrested for recording an arrest, excessive force or even a minor traffic violation. Well one man with a camera took his arrest all the way to the top - and a Federal Court says his First Amendment AND Fourth Amendment were violated when he recorded what he felt was an overly aggressive arrest.
Read about it here, in our blog:
The man, Simon Glik, saw police using excessive force while arresting a man and whipped out his camera. When one of the officers saw Glik, he told him to stop recording. Glik said that he felt the man was being injured, and the office arrested Glik on a Massachusetts wire-tapping offense, along with a few other offenses. Glik was later released, and a Boston court said he was in his right, but the police took the issue further, and then it went Federal.
It makes me wonder, Are we supposed to turn away and not get involved when we see someone being abused because "the person in authority said so?" What about a politician who wants to stop someone from the "opposition's camp" from recording his speech at a fundraiser? I read that this happened recently, even though TV news cameras were there, the opposing party's citizens were told they couldn't record the speech.
This leads to so many other discussions. Julie recently found this very interesting post about police in Long Beach arresting people for photographing public objects "with no apparent esthetic value".
They want to control the photos for security purposes, like at military posts, but they really need to come up with a better "excuse" than to call it "no apparent esthetic value."
We've all seen modern art - what's treasure to some is trash to others, and, I'm sorry, but my grandmother took thousands of photos all over Europe during her many trips abroad, and most of them have pictures of my grandfather's legs and torso standing in front of castles but she cut off his head. I'd hate to see that 80-year-old arthritic granny getting arrested for poor camera composition.
My favorite comment on this story was "Sorry officer, I know I broke the rule of thirds, I just didn't realize it was an arrestable offense."
The "Big Brother Watching" everywhere that George Orwell envisioned in his futuristic novel, "1984" might not have happened in that year, but it certainly is now, but now, citizen journalists are watching back.