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Yup, cops are still abusing DMCA to avoid being live-streamed

You might be aware that livestreaming copyrighted music in videos to social media is a bad idea and subject to DMCA takedowns as the platforms try to stay on the right side of the law. Well, it seems the enforcers of the law have realized this, and are subverting the platform’s filters to stop citizens from being able to record interactions with the police.

You read that correctly, cops are using anti-piracy laws to stop people uploading recordings of their interactions to sites like YouTube.

The Anti Police-Terror Project, a grassroots organization that’s in favor of defunding the Oakland Police Department, posted a video on Thursday that shows exactly how some police officers are using DMCA takedowns in real-time to side-step your First Amendment rights to recording the police when they’re in public exercising their official duties.

This time around, the Sheriff’s deputy whips out his cellphone and starts playing Taylor Swift’s Blank Space during the encounter, stating that he knows “it can’t be posted to YouTube.”

It doesn’t take much thought to wonder if George Floyd’s murderers would have gotten away with it if one of them had decided to play copyrighted music at the time, to reduce the likelihood of the video going viral. Or any other incident of police brutality, where the right to record served as a vital link in transparency after the event.

The whole point here is that “Copyright should not be a fast-track to getting speech removed that you do not like,” and knowing which songs trigger automated DMCA tools like YouTube’s Content ID shouldn’t be a loophole to avoid being recorded.

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