It seems more and more law enforcement agents are trying to use online platforms’ copyright-takedown measures to prevent videos that show them in a bad light from being shared online. A California police officer has tried to use the tactic on a BLM protestor at the Alameda Country courthouse by playing Taylor Swift’s Blank Space, as reported by The Washington Post and Variety. His attempt failed, though, and it even backfired spectacularly: The video has almost 800,000 views on Twitter as of this writing, as well as 300,000 views on YouTube.
The protestor was at the courthouse for the pretrial hearing of Jason Fletcher, the police officer charged with voluntary manslaughter for killing Steven Taylor, a Black man, inside a Walmart. In the video posted by the Anti Police-Terror Project, you’ll hear the officer admit that he played the popular Swift song so that it gets a copyright strike on Google’s video platform. “You can record all you want, I just know it can’t be posted on YouTube,” he said.
When asked if there’s an administrative regulation telling cops to play copyrighted music to prevent videos from being shared, the officer replied: “Not that I know of.” Alameda County sheriff’s office spokesperson Sgt. Ray Kelly told The Post that there’s no policy barring what the officer did in the video, but that the office does not “condone” his behavior.
Back in February, several police officers in Beverly Hills had also been caught on video seemingly trying to get a prominent LA activist banned from Instagram by triggering is copyright filters. They kept playing songs while being filmed, including Sublime’s Santeria and The Beatles’ Yesterday.
Chessie Thacher, a senior staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union Northern California, told The Post that the tactic “does seem to be a trend right now.” Thacher added: “People have the right to film the police, and efforts by the police to infringe on this right are unconstitutional. So if they’re using copyright laws to prevent people from exercising their right — and amplifying what they’re seeing — then that’s a real problem.”
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