Cop plays Taylor Swift hoping YouTube’s copyright system would block BLM video, it went viral instead

Cop plays Taylor Swift hoping YouTube’s copyright system would block BLM video, it went viral instead

A California cop tried to stop a Black Lives Matter activist from uploading a video, banking on YouTube's copyright-detection system.

Police officers appear to be playing songs while interacting with members of the public to stop them from recording them and uploading it online. A California cop tried to stop a Black Lives Matter activist from uploading a video of their interaction on YouTube by playing a Taylor Swift song and not only failed but was also exposed for it. The police officer was banking on the platform's copyright-detection system to block the video, reported Variety. Filming cops can be the difference between life and death for many, especially the African-American community. The murder of George Floyd by a police officer couldn't be stopped by bystanders filming the incident but it certainly helped convict Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in Floyd's murder. Until the video was posted online, the Minneapolis police department had maintained that Floyd had died of a medical incident.

BEVERLY HILLS, CALIFORNIA - JANUARY 05: Taylor Swift attends the 77th Annual Golden Globe Awards at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on January 05, 2020 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

The California cop failed in his attempt to stop the video from being uploaded online and the video of the interaction is still up on YouTube and if anything, his attempts to suppress the video have made it go viral. The incident happened on June 29, when BLM protesters gathered at the Alameda Country courthouse in Oakland, California before a pretrial hearing for Jason Fletcher, a former police officer who was charged with murdering Steven Taylor, a Black man, inside a Walmart store in 2020. 


The video shows an officer from the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office squaring up with a protestor, James Burch of the Anti Police-Terror Project (APTP). The officer demanded the banner be removed and Burch asked why it needed to be removed. That's when the cop, aware that he was being filmed, takes out his mobile phone and starts playing Taylor Swift's Blank Space. Burch, unaware of the practice, was confused. “Are we having a dance party now?” asks Burch. "Are you playing pop music to drown out the conversation?" asks a bystander holding the camera. The officer responds with an air of smugness that the video will never get uploaded on YouTube. “You can record all you want. I just know it can’t be posted to YouTube," the officer can be heard saying. The officer who was later identified as Sergeant David Shelby makes himself clear once more, “I’m playing my music so that you can’t post on YouTube.” The video was uploaded on APTP's page and has since been viewed more than 700,000 times.  

YouTube/Anti Police-Terror Project

Free-speech advocates slammed cops for using the shameful tactic to escape accountability and public scrutiny. “This video of a police officer taking advantage of copyright laws to avoid accountability is the latest chilling example in a line of abuse that stretches back decades,” said Lia Holland, campaigns and communications director at digital-rights group Fight for the Future, in a statement. “The U.S. must fundamentally reform our archaic and corrupt copyright system to put the interests of artists and the public first in the digital era. The last thing we should be doing is giving copyright monopolies more power to abuse, and cops more tools to evade accountability.”


Sergeant Ray Kelly, a sheriff’s office spokesman, said, “The officer was trying to be a little smart, and it kind of backfired. Instead of censoring it, it made it go viral,” reported The Washington Post. There have been previous reports of police officers exploiting copyright-takedown rules to try to block videos from staying on YouTube. A Beverly Hills cop played Sublime’s Santeria as an activist tried to film the encounter disputing a ticket he had been issued, reported Vice News. Beverly Hills PD responded to the report stating that “the playing of music while accepting a complaint or answering questions is not a procedure that has been recommended by Beverly Hills Police command staff.

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