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Old May 7th, 2008, 11:59 PM   #1
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Confiscated footage on HDDs

As hard drive storage for videocameras is becoming more popular, the likelyhood of someone capturing footage that needs to be confiscated for a "police investigation" increases.

I know of people who have had their tapes taken by the authorities. Now are people going to start getting their entire HDD cameras confiscated, since their is no tape to remove?

Also, if one is able to save a copy of their footage before it gets confiscated, can the authorities legally prevent someone from releasing it on their own?
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Old May 8th, 2008, 06:22 AM   #2
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Siezing media

Personally, I can't see how a US citizen would be obliged to waive his right to privacy to get back into his own country. Something is deeply wrong here.

Probably the best thing to happen is for our overseas friends to tell American vacation/tourism operators they aren't coming anymore until they reinstate the American Bill of Rights and no longer require strip searches to get into the USA. That'll be a lot more effective (faster) than any court case.

Related article here:
http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/05...at_us_borders/
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Old May 8th, 2008, 09:51 AM   #3
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I fail to see how post #2 relates to post #1, but whatever… I'm not the moderator. Getting back to the original topic…

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason Sovey View Post
are people going to start getting their entire HDD cameras confiscated, since their is no tape to remove?
Short answer: yes, of course. If the police want to confiscate your footage on the scene, and there is no tape but a HDD, they aren't going to say "shucks, no tape. carry on." That's not how cops operate. In fact, even if one is using tape, the camera may get confiscated. How many cameras do you think police forces have grabbed from all those anti-WTO protests? I know a few people who were there simply to film the police and their actions. Since the police don't like citizens collecting evidence against them, they confiscate cameras, not just tapes. (The camera ops -- unless they are from a recognized media outlet -- tend to get detained in the back of wagons as well).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason Sovey View Post
if one is able to save a copy of their footage before it gets confiscated, can the authorities legally prevent someone from releasing it on their own?
I don't know. This is a legal question, best to consult an attorney. In fact, when it comes to legal questions, that is the only place you can turn for credible and accurate advice.
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Old May 8th, 2008, 10:46 AM   #4
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maybe you can attach a blank tape to the side of the camera, and then palm it when they ask for the tape, and then give them the tape? :-)

I saw a film by a protester of some sort once where he had his camera confiscated, and while the (UK) cops had the camera, they tried to wipe the contents by pressing record with the lens cap on and overwriting the tape.

Unfortunately, the birdbrain cops didn't realise their voices would still be recorded even though the lens cap was on!
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Old May 8th, 2008, 03:17 PM   #5
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Interesting thread - and post #2 relates to post #1 in a very scary way...

post #1 presumes that you've shot digital footage of an event of interest, and that it could be siezed as part of an investigation... Well, I'd probably co-operate and provide a copy as needed anyway, I'm not fond of ill-behaved people! There are "chain of custody" issues with evidence, and a HDD camera ceratinly poses some interesting questions!

post #2 points out that even if you've committed no crime, are not a suspect, and are simply an innocent traveller cross the border, you have no expectation of privacy or security/ownership of your digital property... basically a "pre-incident search and seizure"... I THOUGHT that was pretty much illegal and prohibited in the western free world... then again, I've never tried to take over an aircraft with fingernail clippers, so perhaps I'm missing something.

While one should probably never presume that you have any privacy in the digital age, it's rather unpleasant to contemplate that how many rights have been eroded in the quest to "prevent terrorism"... maybe the terrorists won, by playing to our fears! IIRC that was one of the goals, allow us to destroy ourselves...

From a practical standpoint, steering back on topic, I guess this is a good reason to use removable flash media, and be prepared to swap it out if one happens to be in such a situation! AHHH, life in the digital age!!
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Old May 8th, 2008, 04:55 PM   #6
 
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Police cannot legally take personal property without warrants. If they, or anyone else, are in public there is no expectation of privacy.

Refer to this for further information:

http://www.krages.com/ThePhotographersRight.pdf
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Old May 8th, 2008, 05:16 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chris Coulson View Post
... Unfortunately, the birdbrain cops didn't realise their voices would still be recorded even though the lens cap was on!
When your editing try turning up the volume on Background Noise of a shoot at a crime scene, or undercover op. This usually results in eye raising audio. Makes ya think about just who the badguys really are sometimes.
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Old May 8th, 2008, 05:47 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by James Harring View Post
Personally, I can't see how a US citizen would be obliged to waive his right to privacy to get back into his own country. Something is deeply wrong here.

Probably the best thing to happen is for our overseas friends to tell American vacation/tourism operators they aren't coming anymore until they reinstate the American Bill of Rights and no longer require strip searches to get into the USA. That'll be a lot more effective (faster) than any court case.

Related article here:
http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/05...at_us_borders/
Custom's argues that your rights as a citizen only kick in when you are inside the country - outside the border they don't exist. Since you are a traveler who is outside the country and seeking entry, even though you are a citizen, your rights don't exist until AFTER you have been admitted and cross the border. I can't say I agree with that philosophy but I think that's the theory they're operating on and it does stand up legally. Traveling Americans do have a tendency to think their rights and consitutional guarantees are somehow global in scope and apply to them regardless of whether they're in or out of the country and it's simply not true. One of the fundamental differences of American political philosophy versus most of the rest of the world, even counting the democracies, is that the American ideal say's that the power of the State comes from the permission of the People while for most of the world, the rights of the People come from the permission of the State. Power flows in opposite directions.
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Old May 9th, 2008, 12:56 AM   #9
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It's an interesting topic to be sure. I have heard of CBP confiscating laptops of people suspected of having illegal porn. But that wasn't was I really referring to.

I was actually thinking of several crashes we had at the Reno Air Races. The NTSB and FAA were requesting that anyone in the audience who had captured the crashes, turn their footage over for the investigations. (There were several wrecks that week.)

I don't mind helping in that situation. (As long as I don't lose my equipment.) I've even taped a auto accident scene at the request of the police, who didn't have a camera available.

But it got me thinking about other situations. Recording onto a HDD could mean the loss of a camera or external harddrive. Or more importantly, loss of material when the authorities don't want the footage released. I'll bet if the LAPD could have gotten the Rodney King tape before the media did, it wouldn't have made the news.

I'm thinking about getting a FireStore for my A1. If I do, I'll probably continue to roll tape for archival and back up purposes. If I ever have to hand over a tape, if asked, I'll probably infer that the FS is a battery pack.
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Old May 9th, 2008, 01:30 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason Sovey View Post
I'm thinking about getting a FireStore for my A1. If I do, I'll probably continue to roll tape for archival and back up purposes. If I ever have to hand over a tape, if asked, I'll probably infer that the FS is a battery pack.
Keep Jay's point in mind, though. You absolutely do not have to hand over your personal property simply because a cop asks you to do so. Many policemen will act as if they are within their rights with the assumption that you don't know what your rights are and that you'll cave in, but you have every right to refuse--and if you do so, I'd wager most cops will just let the whole thing go. Ask to see a warrant. That should end the encounter in most cases.

This is not to say that a cop might not confiscate your HDD anyway--just that if he does, he has stepped over the line and you should make a big stink. Lawsuit time. :)

Again, do look at this. It applies quite directly to this discussion and was written by an attorney.
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Old May 9th, 2008, 02:23 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jarrod Whaley View Post
Keep Jay's point in mind, though. You absolutely do not have to hand over your personal property simply because a cop asks you to do so. Many policemen will act as if they are within their rights with the assumption that you don't know what your rights are and that you'll cave in, but you have every right to refuse--and if you do so, I'd wager most cops will just let the whole thing go. Ask to see a warrant. That should end the encounter in most cases.

Cops can take it much past that point actually, (my brother in law is a cop). They'll threaten you with jail, throw the cuffs on you (within their grey area rights), toss you in the back of the car and *IMPLY* your are obstructing justice. God help you if you try to resist. They will of course, let you out shortly and pretend they are doing you a big favor by releasing you, and you owe them. You will not likely see your camera again anytime soon. Is this within their rights? Well... kind of, as it isn't illegal.

Just the dark side of the coin. I'd be tempted to say "sorry officer, I didn't see nothin..." Then make them a DVD and mail it in later.
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Old May 9th, 2008, 02:56 AM   #12
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Sure, Dylan, that stuff happens. The point is, though, that cops operate on the assumption that you don't know your rights and so they can probably stomp all over them with impunity. The scenario you describe is illegal; it is a direct infringement of one's Fourth Amendment rights. That doesn't necessarily mean you'd win in court, or that it wouldn't take you nearly forever to do so, but that shouldn't be a reason to roll over and let the cops steal (basically) your private property.

You're probably right that it's a good idea to just say you didn't see anything, or that your tape was jammed or something. If the cops don't buy that, or if you're feeling particularly in the mood to stand up for yourself, ask to see a warrant. If the cops persist and things get ugly, relent and give them the tape or hard drive. Then make a big stink about it after the fact, when there's no longer a hotheaded cop shouting into your face.
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Old May 9th, 2008, 07:28 AM   #13
 
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Dylan, I hope your brother-in-law is more intelligent than you give him credit for being!

I can't speak for the laws in Canada, but if a cop were to do that to me here in United States... No, I wouldn't resist, but I guarantee you he and his employer (city, county, state, whatever) would be in a whole world of hurt, before it was all over. And THAT IS legal.

I'll repeat it: Down here in the U.S. the police cannot legally take personal property without a warrant for any reason. That's the law. Cops are not above the law. Those who think they are are stupid and deserve to lose their job.
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Old May 9th, 2008, 11:10 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jay Gladwell View Post
Dylan, I hope your brother-in-law is more intelligent than you give him credit for being!

I can't speak for the laws in Canada, but if a cop were to do that to me here in United States... No, I wouldn't resist, but I guarantee you he and his employer (city, county, state, whatever) would be in a whole world of hurt, before it was all over. And THAT IS legal.

I'll repeat it: Down here in the U.S. the police cannot legally take personal property without a warrant for any reason. That's the law. Cops are not above the law. Those who think they are are stupid and deserve to lose their job.
Are you sure? Even if it's considered evidence in a criminal investigation? And here in Canada there are some recent interesting developments in certain situations. For example, driving to work just this morning I happened to pass a highway sign reminding motorists of recent changes in the law that reads

"Speed in excess of 50 km over posted limit?
Maximum fine: $10,000
Roadside License Suspension
Roadside Vehicle Seizure"
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Old May 9th, 2008, 04:08 PM   #15
 
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Steve, you're comparing apples to oranges.

It is a well known, well established fact that driving faster than the posted speed limit is against the law. Shooting video in public is not.

"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

Go to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fourth_...s_Constitution and scroll down to "Seizures" and read the explanation.
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