1st Amendment and Free Speech/Video recording in public


My question may not align perfectly with the 1st amendment, but this section seemed like the best match.

My question should be a quick one.  I would like to know what the law says about filming in public.  Specifically about filming police officers on duty, questioning or arresting or using force on someone.  

Also, what does the law say about taking video of people one does not know and and putting it up on youtube.  (Often times people`s faces are blurred out, and shouldn`t they legally have to sign a waiver?  Or what?)

Does the law differ by state?  What can a record and what can`t I, and what ought I be aware of?

Thanks so much.



Filming in public is usually fine.  If it is public it is public.  Public activities that people are engaging in is fine like walking down the street or filming in a public park.  You cannot film in private areas without permission.  Likewise, if you focus in on someone in public and want to film them for a specific reason then permission is required.  This is especially true if you are planning on some commercial enterprise like posting on the Internet, etc.  As you suggest you can get around that mandate if you make them anonymous on film by blurring, etc.  Laws do differ by each State so make sure you check.  Police officers as public servants can be filmed in their public capacity performing their job.  There are times when you must comply with their request not to film, like being at a crime scene and trying to film it, for example.  Generally though that is it in a nutshell.    


1st Amendment and Free Speech

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Jeffrey Hauck


I would welcome the opportunity to answer questions related to or relating to the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.


Criminologist. Professor of Criminal Justice. Licensed Private Detective with expansive clientele base encompassing hundreds of cases. Donates resources and time to the Children's Rescue Network in Orlando, FL.

Associate of Science; Bachelor of Arts; Master of Science, Doctor of Jurisprudence Degree.

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