Police officer plays Taylor Swift song to prevent protest video going on YouTube

Censorship attempt backfired and incident is now under investigation by department

Graeme Massie
Los Angeles
Saturday 03 July 2021 00:08
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US cop plays Taylor Swift to try to prevent recording of him going on the internet

A California police officer played a Taylor Swift song on his phone to try and prevent protesters from posting video of their encounter on YouTube.

The officer, identified on the video as Sergeant Shelby, hit play on the singer’s hit Blank Space song as he confronted protesters over a banner outside a courthouse in an attempt to create copyright issues for them.

“You can record all you want, I just know it can’t be posted on YouTube,” the officer told activists from the Anti Police-Terror Project outside the courthouse in Alameda County, California.

But the officer’s attempt seems to have backfired as the video has now been seen more than 772,000 times on twitter and more than 180,500 times on YouTube.

The video-sharing giant does not allow users to upload content that includes music tracks that they do not own the rights to “without necessary authorisations.”

The company’s Content ID system can in some cases automatically block an uploaded video when it matches another video, which is seemingly what the officer had in mind.

The incident, which took place outside a pre-trial hearing for a police office accused of shooting a Black man at a Walmart store last year, was branded a “MASSIVE waste of public resources” by the APTP on Twitter.

The officer’s bosses at the Alameda County sheriff’s office were also unimpressed with the action.

“The officer was trying to be a little smart, and it kind of backfired. Instead of censoring it, it made it go viral,” said sheriff’s office spokesperson Sergeant Ray Kelly.

“We are human beings, and we do get caught up in the moment. But the public expects us not to get caught up in those moments. So, this is a situation where I’m sure it won’t happen again.”

While the officer remains at work the incident has been referred to the internal affairs department to be investigated.

Sgt Kelly added that members of the public were legally allowed to film officers as they worked for the sheriff’s office.

The Independent has reached out to YouTube for comment.

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