Copwatch is an education program and app for the Australian Aboriginal Community to help improve engagement, trust and accountability between police and Aboriginal people. The Copwatch app lets you record interactions with police - safely and legally.

 

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Using your recording

Know your rights - Using your recording

 
 
Using your recording

Can I use the recording on social media?

The law talks about this as ‘publishing’ your recording.

 

If the recording was made in a public place, or of a public conversation or activity, you can legally share it - but it is really important to have a look at the next section ‘What should I think about before sharing my recording?’ first.

 

If the recording is of a private conversation or activity, generally the law says you need the permission of all the parties before sharing or publishing it. There are some circumstances where it is okay, but special rules apply and the laws are different across Australia. You should get legal advice before using the recording.

 

Have a look at the section ‘Can I record the police on private property?’ to learn more about what is a ‘public’ and ‘private’ conversation.

 

If a court has ordered that something not be published, and you go ahead and publish it anyway, you will probably be in contempt of court. This is a serious offence and can result in significant fines or even imprisonment.

 

There are some things that you cannot publish as they are against the law, such as any sexually explicit images of people under 18 (including yourself); publishing the identity of a child in state care (a ward of the state); the identity of a sexual assault victim; the identity of parties in Family Court proceedings; matters that could prejudice a jury; and matters of national security. This list is not exhaustive and you might be committing a serious offence if you publish things that it is against the law to publish. These laws vary from around Australia so seeking legal advice is essential.

What should I think about before sharing my recording?

 

Once you have shared your recording either on social media or by sending it to someone else, you lose control of it. Other people can now share and post – and even edit – your recording.

 

How would you feel if it went viral? Think about who else is in the recording. How would they feel seeing it on Facebook or YouTube? Does it embarrass anyone, or show someone committing a crime? Are there cultural issues you need to consider? Is it against the law to publish ? (See ‘Can I use the recording on social media?’, above, for more information).

 

Make sure you think carefully before sharing a recording, because once it is out there, it is out there forever. In most cases, you’ll be much better off if you just make sure it is stored in a safe place.

 

Of course, the main reason for recording people in authority is to hold them accountable for their actions. Publishing the recording is unlikely to do that, and it could cause more trouble for you. Usually, it will be much more sensible to keep the recording safe, secure and private, so it is ready to use as evidence. Even though you may be filming an innocent person, their life or job prospects might be affected by having an interaction with the police published on the web.

How can my recording be used as evidence?

 

There are some important things to remember when making a recording if you want it to be useful evidence:

  • Only speak to identify who you are, who the other people are, where you are, and perhaps the date and time. You want the recording to speak for itself. If you describe what is happening, you may talk over important parts of a conversation.

  • If you can record identifying details, then do so. This may include number plates, police badges, street signs, clocks and watches or other information that helps establish where you are and who else is there.

  • Save the original somewhere safe in the highest resolution possible. You want to make sure that if you edit or share a version, you still have the original to use as evidence. Saving a video to a third party website such as YouTube doesn’t guarantee that it will be saved forever. YouTube can and does delete material from their site.

 

If you have made a recording that is evidence of an offence, that recording might be subpoenaed by a court. This means you have to produce it or you may be held in ‘contempt of court’. This can lead to significant fines or even imprisonment. Possessing a recording of a confession or admission made to police is an also offence in some states. If these situations apply to you, please seek legal advice.

 

Keep in mind that even if your recording was not lawful, for example, because it was of a private conversation and made without consent, there are still some circumstances where a court will accept it as evidence. That use is quite separate to the question of whether you might have committed an offence by making the recording.

What if someone records me without consent, or shares a recording of me?

 

Generally, the person who made the recording owns the recording and its ‘copyright’. This means that in many cases, they can use or publish it however they want. However, there are very important exceptions to this rule.

Stalking

 

Unlawful stalking is an offence, though the laws are slightly different in different places. Generally though, stalking may include:

  • keeping somebody under surveillance;

  • threatening, harassing or intimidating a person, including conduct on social media or other electronic communications (such as texts); or

  • putting a person in fear or apprehension of violence by following, watching or approaching a person, or by sending them unsolicited offensive material

Nuisance and Harassment

Surveilling someone or recording them and posting on social media might also leave you open to a civil nuisance or a harassment claim. Even using a private recording to embarrass a person publicly could be nuisance or harassment.

‘Breach of confidence’ (or privacy)

 

There is no formal right to privacy in Australia, but if somebody shares a private video of you, this may be a ‘breach of confidence’. Always remember though, it is pretty much impossible to remove a recording once it has been shared online. Please think carefully before giving someone permission to record you.

 

‘Upskirting’ and ‘revenge porn’

 

‘Upskirting’ refers to where someone takes a picture up the skirt of another person without the victim’s knowledge. This is a form of sexual harassment, as is any similar form of intimate photography and can be a breach of confidence.

 

‘Revenge porn’ is a term commonly used to refer to the distribution of nude, sexual or sexually explicit images without the victim’s consent, often by social media or mobile phone. This too is a form of sexual harassment. There are specific laws against this in some parts of Australia, with other offences applying elsewhere.

 

Sexual harassment is never ok. If this happens to you, or you see it happening to someone else, notify the police and seek legal help.

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