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Mass. Court Says Constitution Protects Filming On-Duty Police

timothy posted about 3 years ago | from the good-setting-for-the-scene dept.

Government 473

Even in a country and a world where copyright can be claimed as an excuse to prevent you from taking a photo of a giant sculpture in a public, tax-paid park, and openly recording visiting police on your own property can be construed as illegal wiretapping, it sometimes seems like the overreach of officialdom against people taking photos or shooting video knows no bounds. It's a special concern now that seemingly everyone over the age of 10 is carrying a camera that can take decent stills and HD video. It's refreshing, therefore, to read that a Federal Appeals Court has found unconstitutional the arrest of a Massachusetts lawyer who used his phone to video-record an arrest on the Boston Common. (Here's the ruling itself, as a PDF.) From the linked article, provided by reader schwit1: "In its ruling, which lets Simon Glik continue his lawsuit, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in Boston said the wiretapping statute under which Glik was arrested and the seizure of his phone violated his First and Fourth Amendment rights."

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constitution also protects: (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37236332)

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Re:constitution also protects: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37236406)

constitution

Re:constitution also protects: (1, Troll)

Hazel Bergeron (2015538) | about 3 years ago | (#37236568)

constitution

Seriously, though, the First Amendment is the biggest con in modern politics. In America, everyone thinks they're free because they believe that the right to speak is more important than the right to be heard.

Re:constitution also protects: (2)

shentino (1139071) | about 3 years ago | (#37236626)

Your right to speak stops at your neighbor's earplugs.

Especially if that voice isn't a fellow citizen, but a government that wants to indoctrinate you.

I have as much right to open my mouth as you do to close your ears.

Re:constitution also protects: (1, Informative)

TubeSteak (669689) | about 3 years ago | (#37236824)

I have as much right to open my mouth as you do to close your ears.

I bet you've never read your local noise ordinances.
Some jurisdictions will specify decibel levels and distances (no more than X decibels at Y feet),
while other jurisdictions will use language like "loud, unnecessary, and unusual noise" or
"causes discomfort or annoyance to any reasonable person of normal sensitiveness".

Feel free to get up on your soap box, just don't be so loud as to disturb the peace.

Re:constitution also protects: (4, Insightful)

Darkness404 (1287218) | about 3 years ago | (#37236662)

You have no right to "be heard" and such a "right" means destroying other people's freedoms. The right to refuse to support something is just as much of a right as it is to support something. For example, if you disagree with the Ku Klux Klan's message, you don't have to support them, you don't have to give to them financially, etc. On the other hand, if there was a right "to be heard" it would mean that everyone would have to pay money to support the KKK's message, otherwise it would infringe on their rights. What we (should) have now is a better balance, the KKK is free to say what they want, people are free to support them if they wish, but you don't have to listen to them if you don't want to and you certainly don't have to financially support them.

Re:constitution also protects: (2, Insightful)

Chris Tucker (302549) | about 3 years ago | (#37236756)

"Taxation is legalized theft, no more, no less."

Say the person who benefits from the city fire department, police department, highway department, health department that enforces sanitation and public health regulations, the water and sewer, departments that provide safe water and take away sewage, the diverse Federal departments that ensure clean safe food, safe medicines, keep aircraft from colliding in mid air, will carry a letter from coast to coast for you in a few days for less than half a dollar, etc etc etc.

Don't bother to quote Ayn Rand or any other libertarian bullshitter at me. The ONLY quotation that matters is this:

Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.: 'I like to pay taxes. With them, I buy civilization.'

Re:constitution also protects: (4, Interesting)

anagama (611277) | about 3 years ago | (#37236840)

Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.: 'I like to pay taxes. With them, I buy civilization.'

I know my taxes aren't buying any type of civilization in the middle east, despite the trillions going there. In fact, my tax dollars are doing the exact opposite by creating anarchy, pollution, death, and destruction. If those things are the hallmarks of civilization, well, you can keep it.

Most everything you list is a local function BTW. Maybe the world be a better and safer place if government was not allowed to be so large. The scale of death and destruction my county could cause is a mere fraction of that my country is causing, and my county could still build roads and put out fires (I live in a donor state BTW, without the Feds, we'd have MORE money for these things than we do now).

Re:constitution also protects: (1, Troll)

Darkness404 (1287218) | about 3 years ago | (#37236842)

But yet most of those things can be, and should be, provided by private enterprise and would be better suited to private enterprise.

Taxation buys civilization at a much higher price and at a much lower quality than what private enterprise can do. While there is a use for court systems, and armed forces to protect the country along with limited (elected) police officers, such things can be paid for in a much better way than the current tax based on income, instead it should be paid like everything else, based on use.

Taxation is exactly a form of theft when you look at it for what it is.

Lets say a man comes up to you and demands your car and threatens you with bodily harm, surely we can call him a thief. Lets say 2 men come up with you and do the same thing. Does it stop being theft? Lets say 3 men come up to you, take a vote on if you should have your car, and all three of them vote to take your car and you are the lone dissenter. Is it still theft? What if 10 people came in much the same way and took your car and left you a bicycle. Is it still theft? How many people need to be in a mob for it to stop being theft? Surely even if 100 people came, took your brand new 2011 Porsche and replaced it with a 1988 Honda, it would still be theft, correct? Taxation is much the same thing, it is still theft no matter how many people are in the mob trying to take your property.

Re:constitution also protects: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37237058)

Without taxes to pay for police and defense, a lot more people would take your property. Large scale services like utilities require either a unregulated monopoly, a regulated monopoly or a government agency. Do you really believe an unregulated monopoly would work better for providing you power and water? Private fire protection was tried and failed miserably. Do you really want all of your neighbors houses blazing away because they don't have fire protection? It's a really really bad idea, only someone who has no idea of history would propose there is no need for government or that a government can somehow run with no money. Don't want to pay taxes? Buy a sail boat and eat fish for the rest of your life. No one is stopping you.

Re:constitution also protects: (2)

moortak (1273582) | about 3 years ago | (#37237064)

Says the guy on the internet, a creation funded by those tax dollars.

Re:constitution also protects: (1)

shentino (1139071) | about 3 years ago | (#37236904)

the purpose of taxes is to supply public goods that a) everyone wants, b) nobody wants to pay for, and c) whose benefits cannot easily be denied to those who choose not to pay.

Re:constitution also protects: (1)

Dunbal (464142) | about 3 years ago | (#37236930)

That's the theory. Now look at the practice, yeah? Reality is what we object to.

typo? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37236346)

lawer?

Re:typo? (5, Funny)

shugah (881805) | about 3 years ago | (#37236764)

Someone who goes to cort

I really really hope this is appealed (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37236348)

All the way to the Supreme Court, and we can have a final ruling that recording public officials in public is, you know, legal.

Re:I really really hope this is appealed (1)

_0xd0ad (1974778) | about 3 years ago | (#37236436)

They'll never permit that to happen. No, it'll get settled with a victory in some lower level court that won't matter. You can't appeal if you win.

Re:I really really hope this is appealed (1, Informative)

blair1q (305137) | about 3 years ago | (#37236578)

Depends on what charges the cop stands to face, or how big a dick the state's lawyer is.

If they don't appeal, the law is what this Appeals court just decided it is.

And just from reading TFA it looks like this court based its opinion on other decisions, so it's unlikely things are going to go the other way.

Expect the state to let this rest. The legislature who passed this law, and the governor who signed it*, fucked up.

* - I bet it was Romney. He seems like the sort of constipated dickhead who'd think preventing the public from telling each other about what the government is doing is a good idea.

Re:I really really hope this is appealed (3, Informative)

sexybomber (740588) | about 3 years ago | (#37236778)

Unless we're living in Bizarro World, the cop's not going to get charged with anything. Why would the DA punish one of his own thugs? A more likely scenario, if the law is eventually held unconstitutional, is that the cop in question might draw a civil suit under 42 USC 1983 (establishes civil liability for those who violate the civil rights of others "under color of law"), but it'd probably settle out for the cost of the phone stolen and Court costs incurred, which can be billed to the taxpayers. Either way, everyone's getting off essentially scot-free.

oops (1)

sexybomber (740588) | about 3 years ago | (#37236798)

Yes, I know it's bad form to reply to yourself, but I neglected to RTFOpinion... had I done so, I'd've seen that this case is a 1983 suit, and we're long past settlin' time. F*ck the Police!

Re:I really really hope this is appealed (4, Insightful)

blair1q (305137) | about 3 years ago | (#37236812)

Why would the DA punish one of his own thugs?

DA's are elected. Cops aren't.

Re:I really really hope this is appealed (4, Insightful)

canajin56 (660655) | about 3 years ago | (#37236900)

If there's one thing I've learned from watching 10,000 cop procedurals, it's that if the DA dares charge even en ex-cop with anything, all the other cops will "lose" evidence resulting in a 0% conviction rate, and then he won't get reelected because he'll seem incompetent. Somehow the cops don't get reprimanded for losing evidence and botching investigations and contaminating evidence. Also somehow DA's threaten to not press charges as a way to punish cops for not towing the line, so I guess the absurd "We'll let criminals go and that'll make YOU look bad but not us!" threat can be used both ways? Or maybe TV doesn't reflect reality all that much? WHO KNOWS.

Re:I really really hope this is appealed (2, Informative)

R3d M3rcury (871886) | about 3 years ago | (#37236980)

If there's one thing I've learned from watching 10,000 cop procedurals, it's that if the DA dares charge even en ex-cop with anything, all the other cops will "lose" evidence resulting in a 0% conviction rate, and then he won't get reelected because he'll seem incompetent.

"I saw it on Law and Order, so it must be true!"

You do realize how ridiculous that sounds?

TV Shows are not real. Even the ones "ripped from the headlines."

Re:I really really hope this is appealed (5, Informative)

gnasher719 (869701) | about 3 years ago | (#37236656)

They'll never permit that to happen. No, it'll get settled with a victory in some lower level court that won't matter. You can't appeal if you win.

You should have read the fine article. It is amazingly strong. This was not about a guy being arrested and then found innocent in court. This is about a guy suing the police for being arrested and winning the case.

First, the judge said that the right to film a police officer, or any other official, while doing their duty in a public state is so evidently guaranteed by the First Amendment that the judge doesn't even have to refer to any case law. And it is so clearly legal that any police officer arresting you for it is not just making a mistake, but breaking the law.

Second, the judge said that the Massachusetts wiretapping law is about _secretly_ recording. Interestingly, it has nothing to do with the police's right to privacy or not, and nothing to do with consent to the recording, but the only important thing in Massachusetts law is whether the recording is done secretly or not. So a secret recording could be illegal. An open recording, like this man did, with a phone in open view of the police men, is absolutely legal. And it is so obviously legal that a policeman arresting you for wiretapping in this situation is not just making a mistake, but breaking the law.

So what we learn: You can record a policeman doing his job in a public place, but you have to do it openly.

Re:I really really hope this is appealed (-1, Troll)

LVSlushdat (854194) | about 3 years ago | (#37236902)

Finally, a judge who isnt off in la-de-da-liberal-land.. Of course since this isn't the SCOTUS, it only applies to the 1st Circuit area. This would need to be ruled by SCOTUS or all of the circuit/appeals courts to apply nationwide.. Now we ALL KNOW thats not gonna happen.

Re:I really really hope this is appealed (1, Insightful)

Lakitu (136170) | about 3 years ago | (#37236938)

This judge is most assuredly off in "la-de-da-liberal-land". You should probably readjust your perspective on reality to accomodate for that fact. Thanks in advance!

Re:I really really hope this is appealed (4, Interesting)

interval1066 (668936) | about 3 years ago | (#37237022)

Of course. Its ridiculous for any law enforcement official under the jurisdiction of the US Constitution to believe that they can put a stop to people filming them. I know this because years ago I witnessed a cop trying to stop a slowly gathering protest in San Diego, California (I forget what the protest was about). A lawyer happened to be in the crowd and told the cop to back, the individual had an absolute constitutional right to protest, and if the cop persisted he'd be sued, the San Diego Muni Force would be sued, and he would do everything in his power to make sure that the cop was jailed for civil rights violations. Sounds like a typical story of these types but the experience left a big impression on me. After witnessing that I have to believe that citizens do indeed have an absolute right to film any police action. It might take a court to make sure it happens, but that's the nature of the topic in this country.

Re:I really really hope this is appealed (1)

shentino (1139071) | about 3 years ago | (#37236910)

Reading the actual judgement, it appears that the CITY was the one that appealed from the district court.

Re:I really really hope this is appealed (3, Insightful)

shentino (1139071) | about 3 years ago | (#37236652)

Especially since actions taking place in public do not have participants with a reasonable expectation of privacy.

It is one of the meanings of the word "public".

Re:I really really hope this is appealed (1)

bth (635955) | about 3 years ago | (#37236658)

You really don't want that....SCOTUS will likely rule that only corporations can legally record public officials.

Re:I really really hope this is appealed (4, Interesting)

Smallpond (221300) | about 3 years ago | (#37236700)

If the government thinks it's necessary to record my overseas phone calls me and touch my junk at airports in order to stop terrorism, then the natural conclusion is that the government needs to be equally open. It consists of the same kind of people as me, just as (un)likely to be terrorists. Therefore, I need to see what they are doing. No more secret meetings. No more closed negotiations. No more situations that I can't record what's happening to me. In a democracy we don't have a separate ruling class with different privileges.

Re:I really really hope this is appealed (2)

spire3661 (1038968) | about 3 years ago | (#37236820)

Actually in a democracy thats EXACTLY what you get. What you meant was in a REPUBLIC, we dont have a yada yada yada. Democracy jsut means one man one vote, it provides no checks against the Strong buying/bullying the Weak's vote.

Re:I really really hope this is appealed (2)

Improv (2467) | about 3 years ago | (#37236968)

I think you're using definitions at odds with both common usage and political theory.

We have a Democratic Republic, one of the many forms of Democracy.

and so they learn (5, Insightful)

X0563511 (793323) | about 3 years ago | (#37236350)

The police just learned an important lesson: Don't charge lawyers with the stupid rules you use to get away with shit.

Re:and so they learn (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37236356)

So only lawyers can film the police doing shit now?

Re:and so they learn (5, Insightful)

hedwards (940851) | about 3 years ago | (#37236384)

More or less, the legal system in the US has gotten to the point where you really need to be a lawyer in order to understand when you're breaking the law.

Re:and so they learn (4, Insightful)

Freddybear (1805256) | about 3 years ago | (#37236418)

That's what we get for electing so many lawyers to write the laws.

Re:and so they learn (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37236448)

Lobbyists write the laws.

Re:and so they learn (1)

blair1q (305137) | about 3 years ago | (#37236580)

and we hire the lobbyists.

stop buying gasoline if you don't like them.

or at least stop buying so much gasoline [yahoo.com]

Re:and so they learn (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37236464)

That's what we get for electing so many lawyers to write the laws.

And then meekly accepting as legitimate the notion that ignorance of incomprehensible body of law is no excuse.

Re:and so they learn (1)

PJ6 (1151747) | about 3 years ago | (#37237034)

That's what we get for electing so many lawyers to write the laws.

Oh come now, that's like complaining that we use programmers to program.

If you're tempted to remark that programmers tend to make lousy UI designers... that is a valid point, but it's a different discipline.

As in programming, how do we get the law ("application") into a state that it can be wielded and understood by everyman? That is entirely a matter of dedicating yourself to accessibility and the elimination of complexity. We don't have people with jobs exactly like that at the moment in law, but in a better world, it would be one of the higher callings of public servants.

In summary: the problem isn't that we use lawyers to write law, but rather other important functions concerning law are neglected.

Re:and so they learn (5, Insightful)

steelfood (895457) | about 3 years ago | (#37236538)

Not to understand when you're breaking the law, but when you're not breaking the law. And more importantly, it requires a lawyer to get out from any repercussions. Because while we laymen may not be breaking the law and know it, they can still harass us and make our lives difficult. And the only ones who are even remotely capable of defending themselves from that kind of behavior are lawyers. And even then, it still takes an ungodly amount of time, effort, and expenses.

Re:and so they learn (5, Insightful)

hairyfeet (841228) | about 3 years ago | (#37236698)

That's not true! You can also be very very rich and get justice as well! Everyone else is royally fucked though. I used to live down the street from the county courthouse and used to sit in and watch the proceedings but frankly it got too depressing. the ones that finally broke this camel's back was when a rich guy walked in, it was his NINTH bust for under the influence of booze AND drugs, and his FIFTH hit and run! What did he get? they gave him a $10k fine and actually THANKED him for his fucking time! The next one was a poor guy for his second pot possession charge. they gave him 3 years.

Anyone who thinks the courts in the USA aren't as crooked as any third world really ought to set in on some trials for a couple of weeks. there they will quickly see a pattern, rich can do anything, poor go to prison for less than a tenth of what the rich guy does. it is like that old saying, steal $500 go to jail, steal 500 million become a senator. The thing is so tilted now in favor of the elite it isn't even a bad joke anymore, it is just pathetic and sad.

Re:and so they learn (2)

anagama (611277) | about 3 years ago | (#37236750)

I can't recall where I heard this, though I spent some time trying to tease that out with google the other day, but it's really a great tool for understanding what happens anymore:

The poor and middle class live under the rule of law, while the rich rule by law.

Re:and so they learn (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37236718)

False, though it would seem that way if your sole source of information consisted of news headlines.

Re:and so they learn (1)

Dunbal (464142) | about 3 years ago | (#37236984)

In ancient Rome the plebs were not allowed to study or know the laws, but they of course were not allowed to break them and suffered punishment, even death when they did. We'll be at this point soon.

Re:and so they learn (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37236362)

No, this story is about a lawer.

Re:and so they learn (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37236800)

doesn't anyone see the real problem as being that the cops are not trained to know what your constitutional rights are?!

Re:and so they learn (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37236832)

No, they've learned the real lesson, stay away from lawyers, even if it means letting them get away with murder. If Joe Average was the culprit, his sentence would have been measured in years in courts and eventually prison (which would be a relief since bankruptcy was imminent with all those lawyer fees).

Great News! (4, Interesting)

ohnocitizen (1951674) | about 3 years ago | (#37236352)

This is great news, especially since wiretapping statures are commonly used in other states to suppress people's attempts to record police actions.

It's a special concern now that seemingly everyone over the age of 10 is carrying a camera that can take decent stills and HD video

That makes me optimistic, if we see a shift in the law accompanied by the reasonable expectation that *anyone* could potentially be carrying a recoding device, perhaps we will see a moderation in police behavior.

Re:Great News! (1)

Neurotrace (2382180) | about 3 years ago | (#37236480)

Agreed. One only needs to make a quick YouTube search for police brutality to know that police behavior is under moderated. Now there's no almost no excuse for "your word against mine" kind of cases.

Re:Great News! (-1, Troll)

yog (19073) | about 3 years ago | (#37236494)

Yes, there have been quite a few reports of people being arrested and their cameras confiscated merely for videoing the police. I applaud this decision and I do hope it causes these statutes to be struck down once and for all.

Generally I'm on the side of private citizens' right to record events, and the police should never be doing anything that makes them shy about being recorded.

It must be said, though, that to do their job in the real world, police do have to occasionally cajole and threaten people into confessing. It's not due process but realistically it needs to be done. If everyone fought every charge in court, there would be a total logjam. A cop, coming upon a suspect at the scene of a crime, can sometimes intimidate them into 'fessing up without a lot of hassle and expense, and frankly without that we'd have a lot more crime.

So, I hope citizens bear this in mind when taping officers of the law. There's some similarity to the embedded journalists on combat squads in urban warfare situations like Iraq where Marines bursting into a room and discovering a militant lying on the floor holding a white flag will go ahead and frag him out of fear he's got a grenade or suicide belt on him, a common enough occurrence. The journalist will slavishly record the scene, then report it as Marine brutality against an unarmed opponent. Presto, you now have guaranteed more dead Marines.

Re:Great News! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37236546)

A cop, coming upon a suspect at the scene of a crime, can sometimes intimidate them into 'fessing up without a lot of hassle and expense, and frankly without that we'd have a lot more crime.

Yeah, that whole due process thing is a lot of hassle. Glad cops have some leverage to marginalize it.

Re:Great News! (1)

bhagwad (1426855) | about 3 years ago | (#37236552)

How convenient. Trading your rights for freedom. Textbook case of compromise.

Re:Great News! (4, Insightful)

ohnocitizen (1951674) | about 3 years ago | (#37236692)

It's not due process but realistically it needs to be done.

Citation Needed.

Frankly a single instance of a cop using either illegal coercion or force on a citizen who is only suspected of a crime is an unwelcome sight in a country that aspires to rule of law and liberty.

Re:Great News! (1)

DarkVader (121278) | about 3 years ago | (#37236810)

The job of the police is to attempt to enforce the law. When they break the law in a misguided attempt to "do their job", they're not doing their job at all, they've become criminals. And they're not just ordinary criminals, they're extremely dangerous criminals who are virtually immune to any threat of prosecution for their crimes. So, in the real world, we have a lot more crime, because the police decided to take an expedient instead of actually doing their jobs. There's a reason we now call them the biggest street gang in America. And THAT is what people should bear in mind when taping cops.

As for your marine murdering a man with a white flag, I can't imagine how you could possibly justify that as being acceptable. The journalist is the hero in that case, because by broadcasting the cold-blooded murder of a man lying on the floor with a white flag, he's likely to save the lives of many people. With any luck, the footage will be used at the marine's trial, and the murderer will hopefully get to spend a good chunk of the rest of his life in prison. Well, unless his commanding officer ordered the murder - then we should trade a lighter sentence for the murdering marine for his testimony convicting the officer for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Re:Great News! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37236886)

As for your marine murdering a man with a white flag, I can't imagine how you could possibly justify that as being acceptable. The journalist is the hero in that case, because by broadcasting the cold-blooded murder of a man lying on the floor with a white flag, he's likely to save the lives of many people. With any luck, the footage will be used at the marine's trial, and the murderer will hopefully get to spend a good chunk of the rest of his life in prison. Well, unless his commanding officer ordered the murder - then we should trade a lighter sentence for the murdering marine for his testimony convicting the officer for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

If you join a group that regularly blows themselves up in their attempts to kill people, then you have no reasonable expectation of your surrender being accepted unless you are naked. The international laws concerning surrender assume that you can be reasonably expected to adhere to the terms (whatever they may be) of that surrender. Terms like "once you have surrendered, don't blow up the ones you surrendered to." If you and yours reliably violate those terms, then you forfeit all protection from those laws of war.

Re:Great News! (1)

Jbcarpen (883850) | about 3 years ago | (#37236906)

Really should have logged in before posting. The AC parent is me.

Re:Great News! (1)

Torodung (31985) | about 3 years ago | (#37236696)

While I essentially agree with you, the moderation of police behavior is likely to lead to lower effectiveness, at least while they change all their SOPs to meet the new expectations. The laws and procedures regarding internal affairs were not written for an inverse surveillance society. They were written with the cockroach model in mind, if one offense gets to internal affairs, it's likely there are hundreds that went unnoticed or unreported.

So it's good news, not great. It's certainly a change, and fresh air, but I think the police still need some latitude to make quick decisions in situations that would likely make the both of us soil our underwear. Sometimes they are going to be wrong, and we're going to see a whole lot of that in footage, analyzed thoroughly over days, when the officers in question had only milliseconds to make their analysis.

And the good news is that calculated abuse of authority in less tense sorts of situations will be curbed. I hope.

But to make it really "great" news, we need to moderate our attitudes and behavior toward the police, too.

--
Toro

Re:Great News! (2)

Darkness404 (1287218) | about 3 years ago | (#37236792)

Let's face it, years of "crime" drama on television has warped our sense of reality. There are very, very, very few cases where someone is obviously doing evil and the police are somehow powerless to stop it. On the other hand, there are many, many, many cases where the police are the ones doing evil, harassing everyday citizens with nearly boundless power. This is despite the fact they have nearly no checks and balances that every other person in authority has.

Re:Great News! (1)

demonlapin (527802) | about 3 years ago | (#37236830)

we need to moderate our attitudes and behavior toward the police

They get to arrest people and throw them in jail for any reason, or no reason at all ("resisting arrest" is a remarkably stretchy statute). Burden's on them.

Look, I'll accept that cops have to deal with scummy people, and that from time to time it is actually necessary to beat people up. If it's justified, however, you need to be able to back up your decision. That cell phone video may not show the whole context, but that's just a good reason for the cops to make their own videos that do come with context. And if the dash cam video goes "missing", well, members of the public are going to get suspicious about that.

Re:Great News! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37236866)

if you know that they are arresting you illegally, you have a right to resist up to and including homicide. that doesn't mean they wouldn't win, but you have the right to shoot them if they try to arrest you illegally.

YES!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37236382)

YES!!! =D

Legal to record your employees. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37236398)

Haven't the courts found it legal to record your employees when they are on the job?

Re:Legal to record your employees. (1)

TheABomb (180342) | about 3 years ago | (#37236736)

Employees, yes. Masters, no.

See, all it took was an earthquake (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37236420)

All it took was an earthquake to show the judge gods will.
But instead he came to his senses and made the right decision ;)

citing out of date material is misleading. (1)

jcombel (1557059) | about 3 years ago | (#37236454)

re: "Even in a country and a world where copyright can be claimed as an excuse to prevent you from taking a photo of a giant sculpture in a public, tax-paid park,"

that policy for Millennium Park was removed, permits are only required for filming crews 10 persons or larger.

Re:citing out of date material is misleading. (1)

a_nonamiss (743253) | about 3 years ago | (#37236782)

Key word: removed. That means it was at one time in place. These type of restrictions should never be in place by default, as it took a lot of effort and protest to get that provision removed. At some point in the future, people will get tired of protesting and we will be without rights by default.

Re:citing out of date material is misleading. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37237020)

In Paris you can take pictures of the Eiffel tower during the day, sell them and keep all the profit but if you take pictures of the Eiffel tower at night it's a whole different story : because the ligthting system is considered a 'work of art' you need permission to sell the pictures and you have to pay royalties... How absurd.

"Overreach of officialdom" (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37236456)

"Overreach of officialdom"? Please don't try to shield us from reality. Let's skip the sugar-coating and call it what it really is: oppression.

The relationship between government and the citizen is defined by physical force. Therefore it is prudent to speak of that relationship in terms of physical force. Terms like "over-reaching", "cracking down", and "misuse" only soften the impact of what's really happening: oppression of human rights.

Missed one... (5, Interesting)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | about 3 years ago | (#37236458)

You are missing the recent case in Rochester [huffingtonpost.com] where a woman was arrested on her own front lawn for videotaping an arrest going on just off of her property. IIRC the D.A. decided to not bring the case to trial, but the police continued to harass the woman and a demonstration held against the arrest. There was also a news conference with one of those great police organisations going off about how the video recording makes them "less safe."

What bollocks... if the tables were turned you know the police would scream that there was no expectation of privacy on a public street... and the woman was standing on her very own lawn.

Re:Missed one... (-1, Troll)

ebs16 (1069862) | about 3 years ago | (#37236740)

Unfortunately for the Rochester case, the woman in question happens to be an EXTREMELY annoying protester who organizes sit-ins and human chains for things as mundane as evictions and foreclosures. She is still well within her rights to film on-duty officers but her history just kind of sucks the legitimacy out of her case.

Re:Missed one... (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | about 3 years ago | (#37237052)

And the real kicker here is that police who are doing their jobs correctly have it very much in their interest to have all encounters they have with the public filmed. Why? Because then there's no dispute as to what happened.

So that leaves 2 major reasons why cops don't want to be filmed:
1. Juries are more likely to believe cops than civilians, so any disputes as to what happened during a police-citizen encounter favor the police by a wide margin.
2. Bad cops obviously don't want to get caught, and good cops often choose to cover up for bad cops. Why, I'm not sure - any good cops want to weigh in on that problem?

The good news is that any ordinary citizen can help solve the first problem, by taking your turn in jury duty and not automatically assuming the police are telling the truth.

Always love to see the Slashdot spin (2)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | about 3 years ago | (#37236474)

With respect to the sculpture in Chicago, the "don't photograph with permission of the sculptor" statement was specifically with regard to commercial photography since the sculptor retained copyright on his work. I'm not actually sure even that would stand up in court, since it's a public space (just like you don't need permission to photograph people in a public space, even though it's still a good idea) - however I can understand the thinking behind it.

With regard to the police arresting Michael Gannon for "wiretapping", they returned his equipment when they figured out they didn't have a legal leg to stand on (apparently he's still waiting to get the tapes back though). I agree the Nashua N.H. police need better training - as well as someone to teach them how to behave professionally, even when dealing with slimeballs - but the summary makes it sound like what they did was legally supportable in the United States, when obviously it's not.

This is one of the reasons people should be reading newspapers, or at least spending five minutes Googling for information when stuff like this comes up - so many people have trouble separating truth from internet memes because they don't bother to read past the headline.

Re:Always love to see the Slashdot spin (1)

shentino (1139071) | about 3 years ago | (#37236712)

He should sue the police department and get an injunction forbidding them from retaining his tapes, or at least putting forth a legal excuse to hold the tapes.

The Supreme Court Corporate Five (1, Insightful)

HangingChad (677530) | about 3 years ago | (#37236478)

Will likely have a different opinion. To them the constitution only applies to corporations.

Re:The Supreme Court Corporate Five (1)

MickyTheIdiot (1032226) | about 3 years ago | (#37236576)

With so many calls for constitutional amendments for irrelevant things I still can't understand why there is no movement for an amendment to end this abomination called corporate personhood.

Re:The Supreme Court Corporate Five (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37236582)

Will likely have a different opinion. To them the constitution only applies to corporations.

Wow, what an insightful statement. You must be a college graduate.

Re:The Supreme Court Corporate Five (1)

luke923 (778953) | about 3 years ago | (#37236676)

Since there's no corporate entity at stake, I don't see how this is relevant -- even if your assumption is correct.

Where's the fallout? (4, Insightful)

AK Marc (707885) | about 3 years ago | (#37236512)

So, when is the arresting officer going to be charged with violating the civil rights of the videographer? Don't police make some sort of oath to uphold the law, and this ruling makes it clear that the officer violated the law, thus breaking their oath, shouldn't that get them fired as well?

The real issue here is "government violates the law with impunity and nobody cares."

Re:Where's the fallout? (1)

Darkness404 (1287218) | about 3 years ago | (#37236574)

Such things will happen so long as we don't elect our police officers and they are only responsible to their superiors which are also... police officers.

Re:Where's the fallout? (1)

blair1q (305137) | about 3 years ago | (#37236608)

when is the arresting officer going to be charged with violating the civil rights of the videographer?

When the videographer gets around to it.

Re:Where's the fallout? (1)

Nyder (754090) | about 3 years ago | (#37236666)

So, when is the arresting officer going to be charged with violating the civil rights of the videographer? Don't police make some sort of oath to uphold the law, and this ruling makes it clear that the officer violated the law, thus breaking their oath, shouldn't that get them fired as well?

The real issue here is "government violates the law with impunity and nobody cares."

The video taper should take the police officer(s) to civil court then.

what, wait for the government to do it? you kidding? like the prosecutor is going to want to charge police officers, the same people the prosecutor works with, with criminal charges for video taping people. Will rarely happen.

But damn, take the piggies to civil court and you then you might start seeing change.

Re:Where's the fallout? (1)

praksys (246544) | about 3 years ago | (#37236952)

This case is a big deal because the court ruled that the right to record stuff like this was "well established" which in turn means that official immunity does not apply so the public officials involved can be sued for damages as individuals. That is about the best outcome possible.

Re:Where's the fallout? (2)

nameer (706715) | about 3 years ago | (#37237002)

That is what this decision is! The title of the suit is:

SIMON GLIK,
Plaintiff, Appellee,
v.
JOHN CUNNIFFE, in his individual capacity; PETER J. SAVALIS, in
his individual capacity; JEROME HALL-BREWSTER, in his individual
capacity; CITY OF BOSTON,

Glik is filing a law suit against the officers individually and the city of Boston alleging a violation of his civil rights. The defendants claimed that the officers have qualified immunity and are not subject to a law suit. The appellate court has said here that "No, you did violate the rights and have no qualified immunity." Now Glik should be able to proceed with the law suit and get damages. My guess would be that after this ruling there will be a settlement, as it doesn't look like the defendants can win the civil suit without immunity and with the evidence so clearly spelled out by the appellate court.

Thank the founding fathers... (1)

zbobet2012 (1025836) | about 3 years ago | (#37236514)

For the court system. Hopefully the supreme court refuses to hear this thereby granting this the force of precedent.

Re:Thank the founding fathers... (1)

pauljlucas (529435) | about 3 years ago | (#37236784)

Hopefully the supreme court refuses to hear this thereby granting this the force of precedent.

It already has precedent in the First Circuit. As for the rest of the country, I don't think that the SCOTUS refusing to hear a case automatically makes anything a precedent for all circuits. They have to hear the case for that to happen.

Re:Thank the founding fathers... (1)

Anubis IV (1279820) | about 3 years ago | (#37236950)

Hopefully the supreme court refuses to hear this thereby granting this the force of precedent.

They'll hopefully refuse to hear the case, but it won't establish the nationwide precedent that I'm guessing that you're hoping for. In most cases where the Supreme Court denies a writ for certiorari, they do so without statement, which according to a line they've reiterated many times, "imports no expression of opinion upon the merits of the case." In such cases, the precedent would only maintain force of law within the circuit that it originated from [wikipedia.org] (see fifth paragraph in that section), rather than applying nationwide. The Supreme Court only tends to hear cases such as this one in order to resolve differing opinions between circuits [wikipedia.org] .

(Apologies for any misapplied terms. IANAL, but had merely stumbled upon this factoid a few months back whenever something else with the Supreme Court came up here.)

Evenly (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37236520)

Even in a country and a world where copyright can be claimed as an excuse to prevent you from taking a photo of a giant sculpture in a public, tax-paid park, and openly recording visiting police on your own property can be construed as illegal wiretapping, it sometimes seems like the overreach of officialdom against people taking photos or shooting video knows no bounds.

'Even' in a world that dismal, things can sometimes seem bad? Does anyone proof read this crap?

Federal Court - Big difference (5, Insightful)

saihung (19097) | about 3 years ago | (#37236564)

This isn't a Massachusetts court. This is a federal court that actually knows what the 1st Amendment is, and more importantly thinks that it matters. The Supreme Judicial Court, which is the Massachusetts high court, has had its chance to look at this law more than once, and has come to the wrong conclusion every time. It took a federal court to realize what any moron should know - that prohibiting citizens from recording public officials doing their jobs on a public street is an invitation to abuse.

Re:Federal Court - Big difference (1)

SkyDude (919251) | about 3 years ago | (#37236598)

The SJC in MA is not just 'any' moron. They are in a class of morons of their own.If you're from MA as I am, then you know what I mean.

Re:Federal Court - Big difference (1)

Torodung (31985) | about 3 years ago | (#37236746)

Moreover, if the State doesn't appeal this decision to the U.S. Supreme Court (and win the appeal), it will be available as precedent in the other circuits. A ruling in federal court has a lovely snowball effect. Common law [wikipedia.org] FTW!

This isn't as significant as people are making out (5, Informative)

terraformer (617565) | about 3 years ago | (#37236624)

This ruling is in line with Comm v. Hyde. There is NOTHING new about this ruling, at least regards the recording issue. There is nothing wrong with OPENLY recording cops in MA or anyone else who are speaking in normal voice in public. By being in public, they are forfeiting their privacy. This is inline with 4th Amendment thinking.

In technical terms, the above is 3rd party recording that is not considered 3rd party eavesdropping because there is no REP (reasonable expectation of privacy).

Now, what this ruling DOES bring as new is the cops who think that they have veto power over your OPEN recording of them are now on notice, in federal court you have zero shelter from the liability of arresting someone because you don't like that they are recording you in public. This is new. The cops are not being granted qualified immunity and are on the hook for the damages of denying Glik his rights by improperly arresting him. That is a step in the right direction.

The problem here is if you are recording your interaction with a cop, what does that cop have to do to stop your recording? "Detain" you, that is what. Once they do, for their "safety" of course, they now control your recording equipment and can turn it off. Nothing in the above ruling changes this. They can do this, beat you to a pulp, or just ignore you to illustrate both extremes, and there will be no record of it.

What has not changed is Comm v. Hyde which makes 2nd party recording a privacy issue. This is not the case in 38 other states but here in MA, people are presumed to have a REP right from secret recording even when the recorders are privy to what is being said. That is absurd if you dissect it, but that is where Hyde dropped us. So for an example, if party A has a conversation with B, A can't record it because B supposedly has a REP privacy right yet A has heard everything B said. They were having a conversation for christ's sake. B gave up their privacy to the statements once they engaged in said conversation. So A can detail the conversation to whomever will listen but if B denies what was said or that the conversation even took place, it becomes a he said, she said situation. Now, who does this protect? It protects B. It protects liars, cheats and thieves. Because it allows them to lie about what took place. There is a line in Hyde where the SJC basically acknowledges this by stating to allow surreptitious recording of cops will allow the citizens to monitor and find corruption.

To borrow and paraphrase cop's own words... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37236664)

"What are you afraid of if you have nothing to hide...pig?"

surveillance camera? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 years ago | (#37236684)

What happen if I got my surveillance camera on the road where the police is on duty? This mean the can arrested me? for owning the video?

Re:surveillance camera? (1)

demonlapin (527802) | about 3 years ago | (#37236856)

If you recorded any audio of the officer, yes.

Laws like this are why surveillance cameras in stores are video-only.

Re:surveillance camera? (1)

gnasher719 (869701) | about 3 years ago | (#37236994)

Laws like this are why surveillance cameras in stores are video-only.

Please read the PDF with the judge's ruling. It quotes case law that when there is a surveillance camera openly visible in a store, then neither video nor audio recording are secret, and therefore don't fall under wiretapping law, and therefore are legal. It also states quite clearly that if I point my phone at you in clear view, then any photos, video recording _and_ audio recording that my phone makes are _not_ secret and therefore don't fall under wiretapping law.

I hope that the fascist Nazi Rat-fuck.. (2)

Paracelcus (151056) | about 3 years ago | (#37236828)

And the state of Mass get sued for so much that the people finally see the reign of terror that is being visited on the American people is un-American and un-sustainable!

If you must video police... (4, Informative)

SwedishChef (69313) | about 3 years ago | (#37237032)

IANAL but reading the ruling made it clear to me that in states where wiretapping laws imply that it be done secretly then it's important to hold your recording device in plain sight. Many states define audio wiretapping in terms of "intercepting" the audio which this appellate court has determined to mean "secretly". The ruling states that since Glik was holding his cell phone in plain view then he was not doing anything in secret and thus was not wiretapping. You don't have to annouce that you are taking pictures or videos, however. Just holding it where the officers could have seen it is sufficient. But if they ask you if you are taking videos or pictures or recording then you should probably answer truthfully. YMMV so check your state's laws before relying on this ruling.

Of course, if officers cannot see it they would be unlikely to arrest you. So apparently just by them noticing the device would be evidence that it was not done in secret and therefore not wiretapping and therefore not "probable cause" for an arrest.

Who will watch the watchers? (2)

mrflash818 (226638) | about 3 years ago | (#37237062)

We conclude,
based on the facts alleged, that Glik was exercising clearly-
established First Amendment rights in filming the officers in a
public space, and that his clearly-established Fourth Amendment
rights were violated by his arrest without probable cause. We
therefore affirm.

Huzzah.

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