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  (Source: mindseyenews.webs.com)
The filming of government officials while on duty is protected by the First Amendment, said the Court

The First Circuit Court of Appeals reached a crucial decision last Friday allowing the public to videotape police officers while they're on the clock.

The decision comes after a string of incidents where individuals have videotaped police officers and were arrested. Police officers across the United States believed citizens didn't have the right to videotape them as they conducted official duties, but issues like police brutality put the issue up for debate.

One instance where a citizen was arrested for videotaping an officer was when Khaliah Fitchette, a law-abiding teenager from New Jersey, boarded a bus in Newark. Two police officers boarded the bus as well to remove a drunken man. Fitchette began taping the police officers because of how they were handling the man, and a police officer instructed her to stop recording them. When Fitchette refused, she was arrested and placed in the back of a cop car for two hours while the officers took her phone to delete the video. Fitchette was then released, but she and her mother then filed suit against the Newark Police Department with the New Jersey chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

Another example involves Simon Glik, a passerby on the Boston Common. He used his cell phone to tape police officers when the Boston police were punching a man. Citizens surrounding the scene were saying, "You're hurting him." Glik never interfered with the police officers' actions, but recorded the entire incident. The police officers ended up charging Glik with violating a wiretap statute that prohibits secret recording, even though the police officers admitted that they knew Glik was recording them. He was also charged with disturbing the peace and aiding the escape of a prisoner.

While all charges against Glik were dropped due to lack of merit, he still decided to join forces with the ACLU and file a civil rights suit to prevent a similar incident from occurring with others.

On Friday, August 26, 2011, the First Circuit Court of Appeals, which is New England's highest federal court just below the U.S. Supreme Court, ruled that citizens are allowed to videotape law officials while they conduct official duties.

The city's attorneys made the argument that police officers should have been exempt from a civil rights lawsuit in the first place in this case because the law is unclear as to whether there's a "constitutionally protected right to videotape police" conducting their daily duties in public.

"The filming of government officials engaged in their duties in a public place, including police officers performing their responsibilities, fits comfortably within these principles [of protected First Amendment activity].," said the Court. "Gathering information about government officials in a form that can readily be disseminated to others serves a cardinal First Amendment interest in protecting and promoting the free discussion of governmental affairs."

The Court added that the police officers should have understood this all along, and that videotaping public officials is not limited to the press.

"Moreover, changes in technology and society have made the lines between private citizen and journalist exceedingly difficult to draw," the Court continued. "The proliferation of electronic devices with video-recording capability means that many of our images of current events come from bystanders with a ready cell phone or digital camera rather than a traditional film crew, and news stories are now just as likely to be broken by a blogger at her computer as a reporter at a major newspaper. Such developments make clear why the news-gathering protections of the First Amendment cannot turn on professional credentials or status."

The Court concluded that police officers are to expect to deal with certain "burdens" as citizens practice First Amendment rights, but that there needs to be a healthy balance between police officers being videotaped while acting irresponsibly and the harassment of officers with recording devices while they're conducting their duties responsibly.


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Public vs. private
By Motoman on 8/31/2011 1:52:08 PM , Rating: 5
...if you read more about the decision, IIRC it has verbiage that seems to indicate the notion of recording police actions *in public* as being OK.

...but what if Jonny Law mistakenly busts my door down looking for a meth lab (that's actually at Dave's house across the street - but Dave's not there, man), then proceeds to shoot my dog and punch my wife? If I manage to whip out my phone and record that, in my private home, am I protected by this ruling?




RE: Public vs. private
By Reclaimer77 on 8/31/2011 2:16:43 PM , Rating: 2
Yup, even more so. Especially in a "Castle" state.


RE: Public vs. private
By MrBlastman on 8/31/2011 2:36:19 PM , Rating: 5
In a "Castle" state, you can do more than whip out your camera in that instance...


RE: Public vs. private
By The0ne on 9/1/2011 2:53:34 PM , Rating: 3
Nice one, got me laughing :) Thanks.


RE: Public vs. private
By tastyratz on 8/31/2011 3:28:12 PM , Rating: 2
Castle doctrine indicates your ability to defend your home with force. Unless you plan on bludgeoning the officer to death with your flip mino as you feel threatened, that does not apply.


RE: Public vs. private
By Bad-Karma on 9/1/2011 9:55:00 AM , Rating: 4
My home happens to have 360 CCTV coverage plus several strategic views on the inside. It was necessitated by a breakin and then an attempted home invasion while only my wife was home a few years back (Tucson).

If you cross my threshold without a warrant, and I didn't invite you, you're getting 3" 12 gauge mag 00Buck & sabot slugs until one of us goes down. It doesn't matter if they're in a uniform or not. The cameras are there for evidence in support of Castle Law.


RE: Public vs. private
By quiksilvr on 9/1/2011 2:46:08 PM , Rating: 3
Can you friend me on Facebook? :D


RE: Public vs. private
By therealnickdanger on 9/2/2011 8:55:55 AM , Rating: 3
Well done!

There was a time when you didn't even need cameras to prove anything. *sigh*


RE: Public vs. private
By Jeffk464 on 8/31/2011 9:44:00 PM , Rating: 2
http://www.cnn.com/2011/CRIME/08/31/pennsylvania.o...

For those that think cops don't need to be watched.


RE: Public vs. private
By Brandon Hill (blog) on 8/31/2011 2:20:32 PM , Rating: 5
quote:
If I manage to whip out my phone and record that, in my private home, am I protected by this ruling?


It's a moot point -- you'd be dead. You see, by reaching in your pocket to retrieve your phone, you've now become a threat which can only be neutralized with multiple chest shots ;)


RE: Public vs. private
By Motoman on 8/31/2011 3:08:48 PM , Rating: 4
Well, that's it then...I have no choice but to booby trap my doors and windows with claymores.

*ding dong*

Yay! Grandma's here!

*boom*

...oops.


RE: Public vs. private
By Rinadien on 8/31/2011 3:24:31 PM , Rating: 4
At that point grandma would be pretty much... everywhere...


RE: Public vs. private
By borismkv on 8/31/2011 5:35:08 PM , Rating: 2
"Where's Grandma?"
"Over der, over der, and up der."


RE: Public vs. private
By bah12 on 8/31/2011 4:14:34 PM , Rating: 3
Aww but this would be just as illegal as running the meth lab, as there are multiple laws against booby trapping even when faced with almost certain looting.


RE: Public vs. private
By cmdrdredd on 8/31/2011 5:05:33 PM , Rating: 5
My home has 24/7 video surveillance that I can access in multiple locations. Even if you take my HDD and take the SD cards out of the camera I can still retreive the video somewhere. There is nothing any officer can do about it...I am allowed to videotape my private residence.


RE: Public vs. private
By JediJeb on 9/1/2011 7:10:15 PM , Rating: 2
Well that case in Chicago a while back said that even in your private home you were not allowed to videotape police officers if they enter you home. I hope this will also put a stop to that policy though in Chicago I doubt it will be easy to change the laws.


RE: Public vs. private
By rika13 on 9/2/2011 4:19:35 AM , Rating: 3
Under Illinois law, its the same sentence (class 1 felony) to record a cop as it would be to bash him in the face with a baseball bat.


RE: Public vs. private
By JW.C on 9/3/2011 5:36:27 AM , Rating: 2
The courts ruling males the Illinois law unconstitutional. Which is fine since this was headed to the SCoTUS anyway


RE: Public vs. private
By mritter1981 on 8/31/2011 4:48:09 PM , Rating: 2
Which means, if you are in Ohio you are safe. They probably won't even hit the wall behind you. (Anyone remember the 3 officers firing on a white Suburban at point blank? They didn't even hit the Suburban, much less the suspects inside)


RE: Public vs. private
By Natch on 8/31/2011 2:24:42 PM , Rating: 3
That might depend more on the "protect your castle" laws in your state. I know where I live, if the police enter my home, forcibly, without clearly announcing themselves, I can blow them away just as if they were common thugs trying to do a home invasion.

You could always argue that the answer to your question lies in the fact that once they've broken down your door, they have violated the privacy of your home, and introduced "the public" to it. Thus, you are no longer private, but public, and covered in videotaping them. No different than if you had security cameras, and a DVR, set up inside your home.


RE: Public vs. private
By Brandon Hill (blog) on 8/31/2011 2:24:42 PM , Rating: 2
Texas? ;)


RE: Public vs. private
By dgingeri on 8/31/2011 3:17:59 PM , Rating: 2
Probably Colorado. :)

Here in Colorado, if someone busts in, (even police if they don't identify themselves clearly as such) anything I do in the course of protecting my home, short of setting traps, is legal. I could beat the guy until the police arrive, break all his fingers, set him on fire, whatever, and it would be perfectly legal. Anything automated is not covered as protection, though.


RE: Public vs. private
By Jeffk464 on 8/31/2011 4:40:50 PM , Rating: 5
Damn, I was thinking about buying those automated turrets from the "Aliens" movie.


RE: Public vs. private
By bupkus on 8/31/2011 6:45:13 PM , Rating: 5
I prefer the more polite soft spoken automated turrets from Aperture Science.


RE: Public vs. private
By sprockkets on 8/31/2011 11:36:08 PM , Rating: 3
"I don't blame you."


RE: Public vs. private
By Bad-Karma on 9/1/2011 9:57:51 AM , Rating: 2
I with you on that one, but when the smoke clears you've got to say "Game over man"!


RE: Public vs. private
By NES on 9/1/2011 12:53:09 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
...anything I do in the course of protecting my home, short of setting traps, is legal.

Quick! Somebody arrest Macaulay Culkin!


RE: Public vs. private
By Jeffk464 on 8/31/2011 4:39:28 PM , Rating: 2
The only thing is that unless you have it on video it will be assumed the police followed procedure.


RE: Public vs. private
By Jeffk464 on 8/31/2011 4:36:17 PM , Rating: 2
Hey, we won one for democracy and individual rights. I thought things were going the other way with the supreme court ruling that corporations should be allowed to buy elections.

Big thumbs up to the court.


RE: Public vs. private
By espaghetti on 8/31/11, Rating: -1
RE: Public vs. private
By snyper256 on 9/1/2011 5:31:27 PM , Rating: 2
RE: Public vs. private
By espaghetti on 9/15/2011 12:09:51 PM , Rating: 1
I was being sarcastic... geez


RE: Public vs. private
By Jeffk464 on 8/31/2011 4:37:51 PM , Rating: 2
Yup, it means that you are not allowed to film the cops when they are in a private place like their home, same as the rest of us. If you are out in public you have no expectation of privacy.


RE: Public vs. private
By twhittet on 8/31/2011 5:42:27 PM , Rating: 1
For the most part common sense should apply, but there will still be some gray areas. If police came to my work - could I videotape them? It's not public, and I don't own the building.

I would hope it would be ok (with permission of my company). If I released said video and my company was not ok with it, I would also hope they would simply sue me, and not have the police arrest me.

If I worked for a corrupt company and videotaped them dealing with a corrupt cop, I would not want to end up in jail for doing the right thing.


RE: Public vs. private
By Jeffk464 on 8/31/2011 4:45:16 PM , Rating: 2
Of course this means that we need an app that live streams video to a website so that when the cop unlawfully destroys your phone or the recording it still exists.


They are darn right...
By MrBlastman on 8/31/2011 1:38:57 PM , Rating: 5
That this is protected by the First Amendment. If you take a position in public service, be it a janitor, police officer, politician or military serviceman, you should respect the fact that you serve the public. Because of this, you should be subject to scruitiny from US, the people and if we decide to videotape or record your actions, it is completely fair in keeping us informed.

However, I'm sure some thugs in PD's across our nation will have issue with this. Now, they aren't all bad. I've met quite a few honest individuals in the police profession. There are some bad apples though and these are the ones that are leading to all this conflict. The only reason they don't want to be recorded is that they have something to hide.




RE: They are darn right...
By fic2 on 8/31/2011 4:15:39 PM , Rating: 1
I always wonder how the police reconcile it in their minds - it is ok for us to video tape you but you can't video tape us.


RE: They are darn right...
By Solandri on 8/31/2011 5:09:23 PM , Rating: 5
To be fair, nobody likes to be monitored as they work.

As for them videotaping us, police officers were initially vehemently opposed to dashboard video cameras. They only grew to accept them after it became clear that in most cases they supported the officers' version of events.

Personally, I still consider police dashboard video cameras to be more reliable evidence. They record an incident from beginning til end, and the complete tape must be given to the defense prior to trial. Street recordings by the public almost never start until after the crucial instigating cause of an event. It's much more difficult to get the full context of what's happening from such recordings. I completely agree that the public should be able to make such recordings unhindered. But I also think police officers have better reason to dislike them than the public has to dislike being recorded by police (as long as police don't do things like erase parts of the recording).


RE: They are darn right...
By fic2 on 8/31/2011 5:52:28 PM , Rating: 4
I remember hearing about a case in the south east where the video cameras in 4 different police cars "malfunctioned" simultaneously.

We have also had a case here in Denver where the jail house video camera had a missing 45 seconds of recording during which a prisoner died.

Surprisingly these "malfunctions" magically happen during crucial parts.

These need to be black box and be uploaded to a non-erasable black box server.


RE: They are darn right...
By Jeffk464 on 8/31/2011 4:41:41 PM , Rating: 3
The problem is the police have a code of silence and cover for each other when they step out of line.


RE: They are darn right...
By jeff834 on 9/1/2011 7:38:08 AM , Rating: 2
I wonder how much this continues today, but about 50 years ago my mother was babysitting my 3 year old cousin, and he shot himself in the hand with his father's service revolver. According to her, the uniformed officers were there first and helped to fix it so my uncle didn't get in trouble when the detectives showed up. There are certainly worse things to cover up than simple accidents, but I think that kind of thing was pretty rampant back then, and most likely today as well.


RE: They are darn right...
By bupkus on 8/31/2011 6:51:21 PM , Rating: 2
Maybe they're just camera shy. Al Capone didn't mind be photographed especially by reporters... unless he was in the act of bashing someone's brains out with a baseball bat.


By RivuxGamma on 8/31/2011 2:49:45 PM , Rating: 2
Now, if we can only get this to fly in IL where there is specifically a law making recording police officers illegal...




By wiz220 on 8/31/2011 3:17:17 PM , Rating: 2
I would think that they will have to acquiesce to this ruling at some point since federal law is the "law of the land". And this ruling was from a federal court right?


RE: i'm sooo glad that this is being upheld somewhere
By fic2 on 8/31/2011 4:14:15 PM , Rating: 4
Yes. At some point.

My understanding (IANAL) is that someone in Chicago would have to bring a similar suit against the Chicago PD. They can cite this decision as precedent but it would probably make it to the 7th Circuit Court (over IL, WI and IN). If the 7th agrees with the 1st then the Chicago PD could appeal to the Supreme Court, but I would think having 2 Circuit Courts agree I kind of doubt the Supreme would even take it up. If the 7th disagrees with the 1st then the defendants would appeal the Supreme which would probably take it up since there are two conflicting rulings.


By sorry dog on 9/1/2011 12:22:49 PM , Rating: 2
Correct...Ruling is only binding to courts under 1st district federal court. However, since that is the most senior court to rule on the issue then attorneys' arguing cases in other federal districts OR state courts would have a very strong precedent to cite for their case at hand.
...But the supreme court is becoming increasingly fickle about which cases they take. Just because something is unfair or there are conflicting lower court decisions does not mean the supreme court with hear it. In 2009 the court received 8159 requests but only heard 87 cases.
...but in this case that's all the better as that makes it unlikely that case law on this matter will be reversed.


By UNHchabo on 8/31/2011 5:09:24 PM , Rating: 2
Yes, but I'm pretty sure that the ruling only is binding in that circuit. A judge in Illinois' circuit can rule differently, even though it's unlikely because the precedent is there.

In order for the ruling to be accepted nationwide without question, it has to go to the Supreme Court.


By nocturne_81 on 9/2/2011 3:15:46 AM , Rating: 2
That's not at all the case... the reason the circuit court system exists to begin with is because there are far more cases than the Supreme court could ever hope to preside over (though still, 2/3 days being vacation -- hell of a job). A circuit court ruling anywhere applies to the entire nation (exactly why corporations do 'district-shopping' to find the best court to file their complaint). If any state has a law that contradicts the nationwide ruling, though; unfortunately that law still technically stands until the next court case, where the lawyers of the defendants will have to argue with the federal ruling on their side to take the case up to the state's supreme court, which then in turn will rule the law unconstitutional.

I know... doesn't make any sense at all... One of the hazards of being such a large and diversely incompetent nation.


By Jeffk464 on 8/31/2011 4:43:05 PM , Rating: 2
Federal court, so if Illinois tries to enforce their law they just bought themselves a huge lawsuit.


Um...Duh?
By icemansims on 8/31/2011 1:39:30 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
The Court concluded that police officers are to expect to deal with certain "burdens" as citizens practice First Amendment rights, but that there needs to be a healthy balance between police officers being videotaped while acting irresponsibly and the harassment of officers with recording devices while they're conducting their duties responsibly.


Well, gee, that's difficult. /sarcasm

Do your job in accordance to the LAW. Act like you're being videotaped all the time, just like everyone else is apparently now expected to do.

Sorry to all the Judge Dredd wannabes, you are NOT the law, and you are not above it, even if you do have a badge.




RE: Um...Duh?
By inperfectdarkness on 8/31/2011 7:09:16 PM , Rating: 1
i'd like to add here that i'm NOT a big fan of the ACLU, but this is one of those "rare" instances where they are doing something right.


RE: Um...Duh?
By Jeffk464 on 8/31/2011 9:11:09 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah, I used to be anti ACLU but they seem to be the only group to keep this type of thing in check.


RE: Um...Duh?
By idiot77 on 9/1/2011 2:36:56 AM , Rating: 3
It's not rare. They protect freedom. Honestly I don't get why people try to hate them so much. They are the only group that even remotely cares about personal freedom. Just because you don't like some of the people the defend, it's about principle.

Something I'd think a bunch of nerdy Libertarian fools on this website would appreciate.


So let me get this straight........
By Rob94hawk on 8/31/2011 9:56:30 PM , Rating: 1
It's ok to video tape police but video taping a person blowing a red light, now that's an outrage?

Hmmm, I smell massive amounts of hypocrisy leaking from your anus........




RE: So let me get this straight........
By Spuke on 8/31/2011 10:29:33 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
It's ok to video tape police but video taping a person blowing a red light, now that's an outrage?
Red light camera's aren't covered by the 1st Amendment.


RE: So let me get this straight........
By Rob94hawk on 8/31/2011 10:34:07 PM , Rating: 3
A camera is a camera.
A public place is a public place.
The 1st amendment applies. Funny how people only want laws to apply when it suits them....Or may incriminate them....


By Dr of crap on 9/1/2011 9:18:25 AM , Rating: 1
The camera only takes the picture, and there are many things that don't come into play.

Maybe I entered the intersection when the light was yellow, maybe the car owner wasn't driving, maybe if to many cars pictures are taken the lights at that intersetion need some modification, maybe if a person isn't there to SEE the infraction a ticket shouldn't be given out.

I'm still of the mind that unless police see (radar is ok) you speed or run a red light, then you didn't NEED a ticket.
Don't take my picture and expect a payment for the red light problem. That's a cop's job.


By nocturne_81 on 9/2/2011 3:32:43 AM , Rating: 2
Wow... way to take an intelligible argument and plunge it into the depths of depravity..

There's a current campaign here locally to get a certain city to stop using stop-light cams. Even being an admitted daily criminal myself (every single day), I am largely on the side of these cams. After all, if you aren't doing anything wrong -- what do you have to worry about?

The only real concern of mine though is the accuracy of these cams. Personally, it seems one photo that merely shows that you were there at an intersection at a certain time is not enough evidence for any charge. The evidence actually has to prove you broke the law, and any amount of automatic sensor data is not considered real evidence.


Not just the US cops
By Tony Swash on 8/31/2011 6:52:04 PM , Rating: 2
The cops in Britain have also taken a very heavy hand with photographers at times. There has been a long campaign to stop cops in central London from harassing photographers by misusing anti-terror legislation.

There was also a particularly disgraceful example of police violence against a photographer at a demonstration - the police video of the incident actually reveals their behaviour and it's here

http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/2009/jun/21/...

I wrote to the then Home Secretary and my local Member of Parliament complaining about this incident and actually got a a letter back from the head of the cops involved pledging an inquiry, I think they realised that the police had heavily overstepped the mark. The cops still stop people taking photos though.




RE: Not just the US cops
By sprockkets on 8/31/2011 11:56:18 PM , Rating: 5
OMG, Tony just posted on a non-apple story! WTF?


RE: Not just the US cops
By Tony Swash on 9/1/11, Rating: -1
America is a police state
By Mithan on 8/31/2011 5:55:38 PM , Rating: 2
This strikes a blow against the police state, but it is only a matter of time before they come up with a work around.




RE: America is a police state
By rbuszka on 9/1/2011 1:20:53 PM , Rating: 2
Sadly, I agree with this assessment. The police can still incarcerate you indefinitely without filing charges, as a means of intimidation. Also, I would not be surprised to see this issue be taken to our compromised, corrupt supreme court, at which point the Fraternal Order of Police (who supports a ban on videotaping police officers) 'gifts' and lobbying dollars can go to work. Watch for this issue to be "legislated" from the bench, rather than by Congress.


Sucks for this cop :-)
By Brandon Hill (blog) on 8/31/2011 3:36:02 PM , Rating: 2
Oh well, I guess this cop has no recourse ;)

Slightly NSFW ;)

http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/2011/08/3...




Everyone is accountable
By masamasa on 9/1/2011 10:49:59 AM , Rating: 2
Police are no exception.




By conman1787 on 9/1/2011 1:53:17 PM , Rating: 2
Please contact Representative Steve Chabot Ohio and explain to him that the 1st Amendment will not be taken away from the people of The United States of America. Please ask him for an official public comment about the ruling and if he plans to abide by The First Circuit Court of Appeals ruling regarding filming public officials.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l2lFQrQOZMY&feature...

OFFICES LOCATIONS:

Washington DC Office
2351 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
Phone: (202) 225-2216
Fax: (202) 225-3012

District Office
441 Vine Street, Rm. 3003
Cincinnati, OH 45202
Phone: (513) 684-2723
Fax: (513) 421-8722




By nocturne_81 on 9/2/2011 2:05:10 AM , Rating: 2
While I am relieved that such a decision was handed down, I have no idea at all how this is protected under the first amendment (besides being very loosely based on the right to petition and protest). I understand fully that the federal court must use only federal statutes and the constitution to rationalize it's decision, but I feel this ruling is a bit ambiguous and could easily become under fire in the future..

The single most obvious reason for the ruling would be the simple fact that police officers while on duty are operating in a public capacity. Every single action of theirs is considered public record -- exactly why they have to spend hours each shift doing paperwork. So under the reason of common sense alone, anything a police officer does while on duty is public record. It is completely legal for dash-cams to record any possible perpetrator, so isn't it obvious the same protections work both ways..?

A simple personal example, the last time I was visiting my birthplace San Francisco (last spring), I happened upon such an occurrence that required a public eye. As I was walking up lower Haight, I happened upon a pair of beat cops harassing a mother and her children (ages ranging in the teens). The cops obviously had no just cause, and proceeded to search all the kids as I was walking up. As I approached, I exclaimed 'hey! what's going on here?!'. I started giving them hell, loudly gathering public attention as I approached. The cops were mostly confused as to why I was getting involved (atypical for your modern californian yuppy), and the second I pulled out my cellphone to start recording -- they instantly took off. I know, I could have easily been the one to end up in jail that day, but I for one would have gladly taken that hit on the matter of principle alone. Fear to speak out against oppression is as bad as the oppression itself -- 'an injustice anywhere, is an injustice everywhere'.

One of the most famous cases, the oakland BART station occurrence... the single worst fact to me was that everyone was recording it on their cell phones, but nobody was willing to stop that rent-a-cop as he shot that poor kid execution style (sure, they are the authority -- but they exist only to PROTECT and SERVE). The small riots after the fact were also a disappointment. A kid got killed for no reason... if I was there, I'd burn that BART station down to the ground.




By mjnoir1 on 9/11/2011 4:57:49 PM , Rating: 2
sorry i'm completely ignorant when it comes to these things but does the court ruling mean it takes effect across the board? I remember reading some states already had anti video taping police laws in effect. does this ruling null and void those state laws? does this mean i can NOW tape a cop on duty and when he tries to intimadate me by claiming it's illegal to tape him i can securly proclaim it's not illegal to tape him?




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