Cop Was Instructed to Use Music to Disrupt Filming

Police are playing copyrighted music while being filmed to prevent activists from uploading the video; one in Illinois says he was "advised" to do so.
Screen grab: Angel/YouTube

A police officer in Illinois was instructed to use music to disrupt an activist filming him, according to an incident report obtained by Motherboard.

From Beverly Hills to Illinois, law enforcement officers are using “copyright hacking” in an attempt to prevent activists from posting videos of encounters to the internet. Over the past few months, some police have loudly broadcast copyrighted music when confronted by cameras. The logic is that the music should trigger recognition software used by platforms, and either prevent videos from being broadcast live on Instagram and YouTube or lead to them being taken down.

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On February 25, an activist running the YouTube account Accountability Angel attempted to enter the LaSalle County Sheriff's office in Ottawa, Illinois. James Knoblauch blocked her approach, ignored her questions, took out his phone, turned on Blake Shelton’s “Nobody But You,” and cranked up the volume.

According to an incident report obtained by Motherboard via a Freedom of Information Act request, someone told Knoblauch to turn on the music. “Upon arrival, I observed a female, Angel Farmer who I’ve had prior dealings with. At this time, I observed Angel holding up a selfie stick with a cell phone attached to it. It appeared she was recording from inside the vestibule area,” the incident report said.

“As I was recently advised, I then turned on some music. At this time Angel became belligerent towards me about the music.”

It isn't clear who did the advising. The LaSalle County Sheriff's Office did not respond to Motherboard’s request for comment.