Dr. Dre Defends Right to Film Cops

Dr. Dre is arguing that police officers have no right to privacy.

Under the clever but misleading headline “Rap is in the house at the Mich. Supreme Court,” I see that an unlikely figure is making a stand for an important Constitutional principle:

Rap and hip-hop veteran Dr. Dre is on the docket at the Michigan Supreme Court.

The court plans to hear arguments Wednesday in a lawsuit by a Detroit councilman and others who say they were illegally videotaped backstage at a 2000 concert at Joe Louis Arena. Gary Brown was a police official at the time. He warned concert organizers that power would be turned off if they showed a sexually explicit video. The confrontation was taped and later included in a DVD of the “Up In Smoke” tour, featuring Eminem and other artists.

Brown says his privacy was violated by the video. Dr. Dre lawyer Herschel Fink says there’s no privacy when police are doing their job. Dr. Dre is a defendant but won’t be attending the Supreme Court arguments.

This would seem like a no-brainer.  Government officials acting in their official capacity in a public space ought to have no expectation of privacy.

FILED UNDER: Law and the Courts, Popular Culture, Quick Takes, ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. TG Chicago says:

    “This would seem like a no-brainer. Government officials acting in their official capacity in a public space ought to have no expectation of privacy.”

    I completely agree. However, that is not the current trend. Please check out the following links to see how the police are misusing wiretapping laws to make videotaping the work they do — in public, ostensibly for the public — illegal.




    You’re absolutely correct that this should be a no-brainer. However, too many police departments in the US are acting as if they are no-brainers themselves.

  2. mantis says:

    It’s illegal to record the police in Illinois without permission, but only for audio. I carry a small camera with the audio disabled in my car for just that purpose.

    It’s a ridiculous law that exists only to protect corrupt and criminal law enforcement officials. If the cops can record us, it should also be legal to record them.

  3. Steve Plunk says:

    I genuinely like it when my political opposites and I agree. Cops should always be subject to any recording, on duty or off since they retain police powers even when off duty. With great power comes great responsibility. They need to grow into that responsibility.

  4. anjin-san says:

    Given frequent police abuse of power, it is understandable that a lot of departments do not want to have their work documented. These folks are public servants, and they answer to the public. We need to make damn sure it stays that way, as we let them carry guns and put handcuffs on people. That is a lot of power, and when the ones that hold it don’t want to be accountable, that is plain scary.

  5. anjin-san says:

    > I see that an unlikely figure is making a stand for an important Constitutional principle:

    Why is Dre “unlikely”?

  6. James Joyner says:

    I tend not to associate rap impresarios with 1st Amendment activism. Then again, there’s 2 Live Crew.

  7. Robert Baker says:

    Remember when Larry Flint went to the supreme court and said why do I a pig have to defend your rights, why are you not? Watch the movie or better yet read the book the people verses Larry Flint you will get a real education of our constitution and bills of rights and more. THANK YOU LARRY FLINT AND DR DRE for helping defend our freedoms just like I did in the USAF in war. Long live freedom liberty justice for all and AMERICA.