Let’s all hope aboard the official Noisecast time machine (it’s a 2001 Hyundai Elantra with a nuclear reactor in the backseat) to October 2007, it was here that average citizen, Simon Glik, noticed some commotion as he walked past the Boston Common. Glik suspected the commotion was actually police using excessive force during an arrest and this being the age where even your bargain bin phone comes with a camera, Glik began recording the officers (though never in any way interfering with the duties of an officer).
What happened next was a prompt arrest of Glik and the confiscation of his property under the extremely vague Massachusetts law prohibiting audio recording of parties without their prior consent. Ultimately these charges were dropped and it was at this time that Glik filed a suit against the officers for violating his First and Fourth Amendment rights.
After multiple attempts at getting the case heard, Glik finally got his day in court and the outcome is a great one for all citizens. Per the courts findings, the arresting officers did in fact violate his Constitutionally protected rights and ensures that we can film a public servant in a public space without fear of being detained or having our property illegally confiscated.
From the ruling:
“We conclude,based on the facts alleged, that Glik was exercising clearly established First Amendment rights in filming the officers in a public space, and that his clearly-established Fourth Amendment rights were violated by his arrest without probable cause.”
It should be noted that the Court’s ruling is only pertaining to whether or not a police officer has “qualified immunity” (which is now established that they do not) but will undoubtedly help make the case that bloggers and other citizen journalist are well within their rights to film in public spaces. If the decision is appealed, we can only hope that a higher court sees this the same way.
Hat tip to killahkazx