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A New York City cyclist was arrested, while attempting to film a police officer giving him a ticket for running a red light, with the explanation that “iPhones are being used as guns,” according to The Gothamist.
Will Paybarah,24, of Brooklyn, was stopped by a police officer in late March for – admittedly– running a red light while on his bike. As the officer approached him, Paybarah pulled out his cellphone to film the encounter only to have the officer immediately tell him to put his phone away.
According to Paybarah, “When I tried to record my interaction with the officer I was arrested… in 10 seconds flat.”
The First Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in 2011 that people have a First Amendment right to record the police. A Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals decision from June 2012 ruled that laws prohibiting citizens from videotaping police violate the First Amendment.
The Department of Justice also recently sent a letter to Baltimore's police force reminding them that the First Amendment allows people to videotape police in public places, reports Time Magazine.
But for all you aspiring Spielbergs out there, don't hit record just yet.
Courts have recognized a right to record the police, but like all legal rights there are limits to what is allowed.
Secretly recording someone is an invasion of privacy; people must know they are being filmed so they can choose to leave and avoid camera-time. If you decide to videotape police make sure you tell them before you start recording.
Some states require consent before filming a subject. But most of them agree that on-duty police officers have no right to privacy on the job so consent is not generally required.