Penn Live – June 11, 2007:

Brian D. Kelly didn’t think he was doing anything illegal when he used his videocamera to record a Carlisle police officer during a traffic stop. Making movies is one of his hobbies, he said, and the stop was just another interesting event to film.

Now he’s worried about going to prison or being burdened with a criminal record.

Kelly is charged under a state law that bars the intentional interception or recording of anyone’s oral conversation without their consent.

An exception to the wiretapping law allows police to film people during traffic stops, Mancke said.

The purpose of such a law is to protect people’s privacy. But how could a public official performing a public duty have any expectation of privacy? This is a bad law and it needs to be fixed.

  1. Mr. Fusion says:

    There can be no expectation of privacy in public. That is evidenced by the police cruiser having a camera aimed at the stopped vehicle.

    The arresting officer should be criminally charged with obstruction of justice.

  2. Angel H. Wong says:


    Good luck with the one doing that, he’ll have to be a goodie two shoes for the rest of its life otherwise the cops will make a living hell out of him/her.

  3. Mike Johnson says:

    This is nothing new, cops have never liked being photographed while on duty. In 1972 I was studying photography and was strongly urged by my professor to photograph everything that happened in my life. One day cops arrested people on the street in front of my house and started pulling about a dozen rifles out of their car’s trunk. I thought this was part of my life and soon as I started taking photos one of the cops started marking my car for impound. I moved it into my driveway or they would have towed it off. There is a reason the word ‘pig’ has been used to describe them and in their defense I must say they only deal with people who break the law and come to think that includes all of us.

    I still call them pigs when they act like pigs which is far too often.

  4. SN says:

    1. “There can be no expectation of privacy in public.”

    While I agree with you, to me it doesn’t matter whether it was in public or private. For example, if a cop comes into your private home to effectuate a search warrant, he’s still a public officer performing a public duty. There can be no expectation of privacy even in that circumstance.

  5. OhForTheLoveOf says:

    This is just more proof that Bush is a fascist and The United Corporation Of America is out of control! Revolution Now!! Bush needs to be impeached over this and burned at the stake! Republicans eat live babies at breakfast! James Hill is a very attractive man. Condi Rice posed nude in Hustler! Jerry Falwell is having necro-anal-sex with his wife in the outhouse behind his McMansion! Why aren’t you people outraged! Sheep! SHEEP! American’s ARE SHEEPLE!!!!

    Okay… That’s done.

    Since I’ve handled the loonbat post from the left, I’ll just need someone post some wingnut screed for the right, and afterwards we can all have meaningful discussion about the coming police state.

  6. joshua says:

    Sounds like a law that was made before the **everyone** has a video camera deluge. It needs to be looked at for modification or deletion. But legislators are notoriously slow at that.

  7. mark says:

    5. How can you say that? James Hill is NOT an attractive man. Carry on.

  8. SM says:

    This is nothing new, in fact I was told in college in Ohio that it is illegal to record someone without their consent. We were specifically told that we could not record lectures without the professor’s specific consent because it was illegal. Its not something that has to do with the current administration, it is another example of how technology has bypassed expectations and changed the way that laws need to be written and interpreted. The current legal system is 30 years behind the current state of technology.

  9. BobH says:

    Do you vote in every election – national, state and local? If not, you participate in permitting the election of the ignorants who allow these antiquated laws to remain enforceable. Mind you, there’s no guarantee your ballot won’t be “lost” nor your digits unscrambled, but you can be certain you must be present to win

  10. before you bad mouth it, there is a group here in Pittsburgh that does protests that at times do turn violent, they record the police arresting them then post the officers picture and HOME address and harasses them at their home (and their family) there are some laws that seem stupid till you think about it, the groups game is pog (pittsburgh organization group), they are a bunch of hypies, they are basically out to break the law on their protests, they love that critical mass stuff (on a 4 lane road they will take up all 4 lanes just to block traffic, yes we have that critical mass stupidity here in Pittsburgh too) when they do a protest in front of army recruitment centers they take up the whole side walk so no one can pass, and they will also block traffic too. They will go on private property and clam that people don’t have the right to tell them to leave because you can not own land.

  11. Jerk-Face says:

    10. “before you bad mouth it, there is a group here in Pittsburgh that does protests that at times do turn violent, they record the police arresting them then post the officers picture and HOME address and harasses them at their home (and their family) there are some laws that seem stupid till you think about it.”

    Considering this case has NOTHING to do with taking pictures, publishing home addresses, or harassing anyone, I think you should take a little time and READ the article before commenting next time. Thanks!

  12. OhForTheLoveOf says:

    #10 – before you bad mouth it, there is a group here in Pittsburgh that does protests that at times do turn violent, they record the police arresting them then post the officers picture and HOME address and harasses them at their home…

    First off, they are called Pittsburgh Organizing Group, which seems like a subtle detail, but it helps Google if you know what you are googling.

    I found a video in which I saw cops abusing some kids and unleashing a dog on an old lady. It’s pretty typical to see this sort of thuggery used against political protesters and it should be documented.

    I couldn’t find any names and addresses of cops, which I think would be actionable, so please post your proof of this accusation so that I don’t have to assume you just plain lied about that.

    They also are not “hypies” (sic) but rather anarchists, who are largely well meaning but ultimately reactionary young people who haven’t quite learned the lessons of moderation in politics yet… But they are pretty essential to a well run society. Without anyone to poke the bear, the bear gets out of control.

    They have a pretty nice web site. You might look at it if you want to see an example of grammar and spelling used correctly.

    You police state guys are a hoot… You want to strip us of our freedom in order to protect our freedom. That’s a riot… or rather, it will be, and it should be…

  13. Mr. Fusion says:

    #10, Michael P. O’Connor ,
    Every so often you come on this blog and post something totally outlandish. Please explain, why is it wrong or illegal to publish a policeman’s picture and address? The police have no problems publishing accused’s pictures and addresses.

    What is a hypies? I think you meant that as plural and I don’t know the singular.

    Do the hypies not have any right to use the sidewalk? Is the Pittsburgh sidewalk reserved for special or certain people only? Would they be so fat that ordinary Episcopalians or Lutherans can’t pass?

    Do you know how to use spell check?

  14. jz says:

    Wow, I agree with OFTLO and Fusion. Did hell just freeze over?

  15. OhForTheLoveOf says:

    #14 – The LSD I dumped in the water supply is finally working!

  16. Mr. Fusion says:

    #8, There is a big difference between recording a Professor’s lecture on school property and what happens in the public domain. It has long been known that there is no expectation of privacy in public. The same does not apply on private property although SN raised a good point in #4.

  17. bobbo says:

    I can imagine such a law “on the books” but surely it would fall if vigorously contested?

    The old saw is that “Your right to swing your arm stops at my nose.” but here the right of privacy begins in areas of expected/traditional privacy which is NOT out in public on the public roads. In other words, my right to film, record, etc should continue.

    Truly, the fight for freedom was not won in 1776, it continues even today.

  18. hhopper says:

    As long as the cop is notified that he is being recorded, It should be legal. Just as if you are recording a phone conversation you must have a beeper on the line. However, I guess every state has different laws.

  19. Don says:

    Just call your local TV station and sell the recording to them, and you should be covered by the first amendment.

    I’ve never heard of that type of law enforced that way. Are you saying the entire Rodney King episode could not have happened in Pennsylvania. They are really allowed to beat the snot out of you, and the only legal way for them to be recorded doing it is if they make the recording themselves.

    Wow, how communist does that sound to everyone?

    You know, anti recording and wiretaping laws were originally passed by corrupt politicians to make it harder to bust them.


  20. bobbo says:


    Why do you think this? Cops should perform their duties as if they were being recorded all the time!!!! Then we need to figure out a way to do that. A video record is “the truth” whereas recall is faulty, and lying is common.

    Really same should apply to phone lines. This is a “traditional” area of privacy I have never understood.

  21. Olo Baggins of Bywater says:

    I spent some time in an online community of security and surveillance system installers, and Pennsylvania is a different world for them. Convenience stores, for example, can record all the surveillance video they want, but audio is a major infraction. Nobody seems to know the logic behind this, but it is the law there. Apparently it is a law unique to Penn.

  22. John Paradox says:

    The LSD I dumped in the water supply is finally working!
    Comment by OhForTheLoveOf

    You old enough to remember a movie: Wild In The Streets?
    The superstar rock idol was elected President, then they dumped LSD in D.C.’s water supply for Congress.
    (BTW, it won’t work, the fluoride would destroy the LSD.. drat)


  23. Bigby says:

    #22 Besides, who drinks tap water any more? I thought everyone drank bottled water – you know, the stuff that’s more expensive than gasoline…

  24. Uncle Dave says:

    All of you might find the Can We Tape site interesting. It has a breakdown by state of the laws related to recording phone and in-person conversations.

    And Hop, the beeper requirement for calls has been gone for a long time, unless there is some individual state that requires it. For example, you never hear that anymore on radio call-in shows.

  25. Timmo says:

    “The old saw is that “Your right to swing your arm stops at my nose.””

    In today’s world, that would be considered “Assault.” “Assault” covers the arm’s movement toward your nose and “Battery” is when it makes contact with your nose and flattens it. If a guy is swinging at you, he can be charged with assault…now, with US Courts being obsessed with “motive” or, “intent” alleged assault perps can always claim a “misunderstanding” by the alleged victim. The end all is…Welcome to America where nobody can really be found guilty of doing anything “wrong.”

  26. Arrius says:

    More examples of contempt of cop.

    They dont like being accountable to others, merely enforcing accountability on others.

    There is no expectation of privacy in public, and as a public servant I think the actions of cops should be observable and recordable within guidelines that allow maximum freedom of the populace without interfering with the process they are observing.

    The police state is here people. Cops know they can screw with Joe Shmo because Joe has so much to lose when they have a run in with the cops, even a manufactored run in, that Joe will go out of his way to avoid a cop at almost any cost. Cops dont seem like servants to me, they seem like Junior Varsity football players that lacked any other viable career path and ended up policing people to feel the importance they once had in High School.

  27. Lauren the Ghoti says:

    #24 – Uncle Dave

    “And Hop, the beeper requirement for calls has been gone for a long time, unless there is some individual state that requires it.”

    Yas, here in the Lone Star State you can record any telephone conversation which you are a party to. What you cannot do is record the conversation of others without their knowledge. Not so terrible, as laws go…

  28. spooky says:

    Not only can you record someone without their knowledge, the recording is admissible as evidence in court. What you can’t do is record a telephone conversation and use it as evidence. You CAN record any conversation, even on the phone, without the other party’s knowledge; it’s admissibility in court that’s questionable. My sister sued a former employer for sexual harassment and used as evidence a recording she’d made with a microcassette recorder in her pocket. The evidence was ruled admissible and she won the case.


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