Audio of police interrogation of Sen. Larry Craig on YouTube

August 31, 2007

To be honest, I was surprised by the audio. I found it more helpful to Senator Craig’s side than the police’s, at least after all the negative media portrayal of what happened. Throughout the police interview, Senator Craig maintains his innocence. His story sounded at least halfway plausible. If I were on a jury, I would like to hear some testimony from several witnesses proving the meaning of the putative “bathroom signals” to solicit sex.  That would have been crucial to the prosecution’s case, had this gone to trial.

YouTube helps catch burglary suspect

July 5, 2007

News:  Report from New Westminster, Canada.  YouTube is becoming an important law enforcement tool.

YouTube crimestoppers: Canadian police seek suspects in homicide case

February 6, 2007

News: YouTube is becoming a popular law enforcement tool, at least in Canada. Here’s another video of “persons of interest” in a homicide case.

Schoolyard fight on YouTube leads to arrest

January 18, 2007

News:  Three high school girls beat up a 13 year old girl outside of a school.  The bullies pulled the girl’s hair, while she lay prone on the ground, and they punched her repeatedly.  Of course, the bullies videotaped themselves and stuck it on YouTube and MySpace.  After the video received a lot of publicity, school officials found out and notified Suffolk County police, who just arrested the three girls who beat up the other girl.  (More here)

Analysis:   I’m glad the girls got caught.  But I have mixed feelings about YouTube’s role in all this.  On the one hand, it’s definitely good that the police could use the YouTube video to identify the perpetrators of the beating.  On the other hand, I wonder whether YouTube should evaluate its own policies in allowing so many beating and fight videos up freely on its site.  I worry that teenagers and others might now be enjoying more getting into fights, so they can videotape their exploits and put them up on the web.  If you type in “girl beating girl” on YouTube, you get some 2,347 videos.   (You’d probably find some other fight videos if you type in some other search terms.) Some of these videos may not be actual fights, but I’m pretty sure that many are.

I’m not sure what the best policy for YouTube would be, but I think YouTube needs to study the issue at the very least.  In the end, maybe they need to ban all such fight videos from its site — after all, the postings on YouTube might be unintentionally promoting criminal acts.  The downside of such a ban would be that without the videos, it’s unlikely the police would ever investigate the fights.  I wonder, though, whether that’s likely to happen anyway, the Suffolk County case notwithstanding.

Crime and YouTube: Canadian police use YouTube

December 21, 2006

News: Hamilton police in Canada posted on YouTube security footage taken at a bar where a murder occurred, in order to have a suspect identified. The clip received tens of thousands of views. Eventually a guy turned himself in. (more from the Chronicle Herald)

Analysis: Pretty incredible — YouTube is now a law enforcement tool Will YouTube need to add a category for videos of “suspected criminals” to its menu of choices? I’m very intrigued about this use of YouTube and will be asking some of my criminal law colleagues what they think.