Activist claims police officer stifled free speech by playing copyrighted music

While being filmed, a police officer played Sublime's 'Santeria' in an apparent attempt to trigger Instagram's copyright filters


Risk management expert and Lexipol co-founder Gordon Graham outlines why playing music while being recorded is not advised. Have you been filmed by the public as part of a "First Amendment audit?" Click here to take our poll.

By David Matthews
New York Daily News

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. — A Beverly Hills police officers is accused of playing copyrighted music while being filmed by a member of the public in order to trigger content filters that will get the video taken offline.

According to CBS Los Angeles, activists have reported a number of instances where Beverly Hills police put on music when interacting with the public. Sennett Devermont, who posts videos of his run-ins with the city’s police, said it was a tactic to stifle free speech and for the police to avoid accountability.

During a recent interaction with Beverly Hills police Sgt. Billy Fair, the officer took out his own cellphone and started playing music (Sublime’s “Santeria”) while Devermont was streaming on Instagram Live.

[READ: React without reaction: What cops should do when being recorded]

Devermont, who has over 300,000 followers on Instagram, said there is no valid reason for officers to do this.

“To me, it’s not anti-cop. It’s anti-bad-cop,” Devermont said.

The Beverly Hills Police Department told CBS Los Angeles that it was investigating the incident.

Despite Instagram’s strict content filters and rules regarding copyrighted music, Devermont’s video remains online.

“Our restrictions take the following into consideration: how much of the total video contains recorded music, the total number of songs in the video and the length of individual song(s) included in the video,” an Instagram spokesperson told VICE.

A request for comment from Universal Music Group was not returned as of press time.

(c)2021 New York Daily News

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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