If you’re wondering if all the police officers in California play Taylor Swift’s songs when approaching the public, then no, they don’t (we hope). But this incident involving James Burch, policy director of the Anti Police-Terror Project (APTP), and a police sergeant who started playing music is a bit baffling.
Burch was outside the Alameda Courthouse in Oakland to show support and listening to the pre-trial hearing of Steven Taylor who was killed by a San Leandro police officer when a police sergeant approached him and told him to remove the campaign banner. When Burch confronted the officer for the reason for removing the banner, instead of answering his query, the police sergeant took out his phone and started blasting Taylor Swift’s “Blank Space”. This was quite shocking for Burch and the APTP members because it seemed like the sergeant was purposefully trying to drown out the conversation so that the video could not be uploaded on Youtube. The social media platform has an automated process for removing copyrighted content and the sergeant tried to avoid public scrutiny by playing an original song and hoping it would be taken down.
Bystanders by law have a right to record police but seeing how some of them would go to the extent of trying to trigger a copyright takedown shows they don’t want to be held accountable for their actions. “It’s our job to be prepared in any situation to do the best we can to make sure the people in our community stay safe.”, Burch commented.
This isn’t the first incident involving the exploitation of online copyright systems. In February, a Beverly Hills officer was caught blasting Sublime’s “Santeria” after being asked questions to ensure that the video won’t be posted online. Similarly, another cop pulled the same tactic with a Beatles song. But this is the first time it’s been caught on video and proves that this is a very common practice among police officers. Not only is this tactic used by the police, but some scammers have also used this hack for public content abuse. While APTP’s video didn’t necessarily violate the copyright rules, there is a very fine line between what can be posted or not. We hope that in the future, automated systems are better at detecting copyrighted content and an innocent person’s video with a little background music.