Dr. Dre Beats the Cops in Michigan

Dr. Dre has just helped set legal precedent regarding police conduct in one of the most important rulings by the Michigan Supreme Court. Last week, in a 6-1 ruling, the court said that police do not have a right to privacy while on the job. The case stems from an incident during the 2000 Up in Smoke Tour that pitted a high ranking police officer against Eminem and Dr. Dre and resulted in the officer filing suit because footage of him during the incident was included in the Up in Smoke DVD.

The suit was filed by Gary Brown, now a Detroit City Councilman but formerly a high-ranking police official. He and other officers were videotaped while threatening to shut down a concert featuring Dre and Eminem if they showed a sexually explicit video. The video was then included in a DVD produced about the tour.

Why is this ruling so important? Because this decision makes it legal for police throughout the state of Michigan to be recorded while performing their jobs. Many states have been pushing to make videotaping police illegal (and punishable by jail time) despite numerous cases of police misconduct being caught by simple cell phone cameras.

Last year, Time Magazine put together a great case study on this issue that highlights a number of incidents including the high profile case of Anthony Graber, a Maryland Air National Guard staff sergeant who faced 16 years in prison under Maryland wiretapping laws after he filmed an off-duty state trooper with a camera placed on his motorcycle helmet and put the video on YouTube. Carlos Miller, a photographer who has been arrested twice for taking pictures of police on the job, keeps an updated site of stories relating to filming police called Photography is Not a Crime.

What do you think? Should videotaping police be a crime? Or does it help protect citizens from police misconduct?