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The Right to Film

by on November 27, 2012

Considered filming a cop recently?  Now you can, at least implicitly.  “On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to review a decision by the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals blocking the enforcement of an Illinois eavesdropping law.”  The law had made it a felony to record a person without their consent, punishable by up to fifteen years in prison.  “The 7th Circuit Court found a specific First Amendment right to record police officers;” it’s the second federal appeals court to strike down a conviction for recording police.

Last year’s decision found that “Gathering information about government officials in a form that can readily be disseminated to others serves a cardinal First Amendment interest in protecting and promoting ‘the free discussion of governmental affairs.'”

The First and 7th circuit decisions mean that it is now technically legal to record on-duty police officers in every state in the country.  However, people are still being arrested for it.  Police have wide discretion in enforcing laws, and it takes months or years to litigate issues.

“Journalist Carlos Miller, who has been arrested multiple times for recording police, documents such cases on a daily basis. He has also documented countless cases in which police officers have deleted incriminating video from cell phones — a crime in and of itself.”

I have had the urge to film police, or TSA (which a different legal issue), at times.  While it is currently legal, be careful about your decisions.

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From → Law

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