Smartphone videos are causing a lot of headaches for the police these days, but does that mean police officers have the right to stop bystanders from using their smartphones to record video of police arrests or other police actions?

It is illegal — in California and other states — to audio record someone if they have the expectation of privacy. Recording video (without audio) of individuals in public places is less of a legal problem.

But what about using your phone camera to video and audio record the police? There are many instances of police threatening those who are recording video, arresting them, and confiscating their smartphones. But with recent cases, the tide is turning — in favor of the rights of citizens to record video of the police.

(I’m not pretending to be an attorney; I am just very interested on these subjects, based on my work as a video and audio forensic expert. Please talk to a lawyer if you need specific legal advice!)

Below is a nice summary of the main recent issues and rulings regarding this issue: