Police Turn to Strange Trick to Stop Recordings From Being Posted on YouTube

We have seen plenty of examples of police challenging or violating citizens' First Amendment right to record their activities in public, but now, they are turning to a new trick to prevent the dissemination of recordings. 

In a video posted by Anti Police-Terror Project, a James Burch, policy director of the organization, is standing outside the Alameda Courthouse in Oakland, California in support of the family of Steven Taylor, when he is approached by a police sergeant who asks him to move a banner. In the course of the confrontation, the sergeant pulls out his phone, turns on "Blank Space" by Taylor Swift, and puts it in his pocket, a seemingly strange thing to do given the circumstances.

However, the officer follows it by saying: "You can record all you want. I just know it can't be posted to YouTube." This indicates that the officer is attempting to exploit YouTube's takedown algorithm, which detects copyrighted music and takes various enforcement actions that range from demonetizing the video to blocking it from the platform completely. There is generally nothing wrong with incidental music in the background of a video, but as anyone who has encountered YouTube's automatic takedown algorithm will tell you, it can be very aggressive and will often flag videos for even slight infractions, accidental or not. Of course, it is the First Amendment right of any citizen to record police (or anyone) in public, and such a counter-tactic is likely not inherently illegal, though its intent is clearly to circumvent some of the effects of that First Amendment right, namely the ability to efficiently disseminate recordings. 

This is not the first time police have used such a tactic, but it does appear to be the first time an officer has directly admitted to it on camera. 

Alex Cooke's picture

Alex Cooke is a Cleveland-based portrait, events, and landscape photographer. He holds an M.S. in Applied Mathematics and a doctorate in Music Composition. He is also an avid equestrian.

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I can see it now, police gunning people down over a missing tail light, all set to "What a wonderful world"

Those poor snowflakes, they have something to say but no one was listening.

The kid that thought the officer owed him something and wanted a sound bite for his YouTube channel. The officer probably has multiple encounters with these types every day and didn’t want to debate the Constitutionality of the guy’s opinion of what he thought the officer’s job is.

That kid has a right to film him. He has no right to interfere with that. He is a public servant.

How do you not look at this and think "well if he's a good dude and does nothing wrong why does he care?" Because that's the rational, normal reaction.

The only time I use the term snowflake is when I talk about Republicans.

But it's not ironic when I do that. It's just true.

I would agree with that but unfortunately, there is a strong sense of entitlement in our Country.

The police.

Pan daBear why are you hiding behind a fake name and a crud picture is it because you are an arsehole

What a scummy tactic

Now this video will be spread even more online, and this officer will become infamous, because he failed to understand the Streisand Effect.

That is 100% the funniest part of this, along with the fact that it is still on youtube

And yet, there it is...posted on You Tube!


What a dumbаѕѕ!

Maybe your local news would find it interesting you find it necessary to avoid bad behavior. Your bosses might find it interesting or city council. Oh, lord. What happened to the concept of good guy with a gun? Not even the ones with a badge. We’re past sad.


Shocker. Cop makes an ass out of himself by simultaneously showing 1) there's some reason he doesn't want to be recorded and 2) proves himself a complete dumbass given that this video is literally still on youtube.

Anyway, this cop should be fired. The law says you can record them, he was clearly doing something outside of the purview of his job in an attempt to limit the number of people that might see the video, and last I checked, cops should not have a problem being filmed if they're doing nothing wrong.

FIre his ass.

How about just posting it without sound? Or, with a royalty free track.

Recording the sounds and dialog of a police interaction is often critical to understanding what is actually transpiring. Did the police officer actually say, "Put up your hands" before firing or not?


Good luck proving it's illegal to listen to music in public. Lol


I'm with the cop on this, there is no reason civilians need to interfere with police or try to interview them while doing their job. We've hit a point where police are blindly labeled as bad guys and harassed because a few cops are trash.

No I'm not against filming the police, film them and hold them accountable, but let them do their job.

By playing a recording, it turns the clip into a news event which might change the Youtube use restrictions.