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Freedom to videotape in public - Canadian style

8:52 am on May 27, 2012 (gmt 0)

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WebmasterWorld Senior Member sgt_kickaxe is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member

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There's a vlogger in Ontario Canada named Christopher Whitcroft(1puglife) who has been videotaping daily activities such as his fabrication projects, his business activities, his cooking as well as some crazy shenanigans such as a Winnebago jump which made him semi-(in)famous locally, powered lawn chair racing etc. He posts them on youtube and has 25,000+ subscribers.

Somewhere along the way his daily videotaping activities began annoying his neighbor whom then began calling police, city bylaw inspectors and others at every chance(according to Chris). No violence occurred, not even a confrontation face to face, but the video recordings themselves on which Chris shares his frustrations have come under fire. Specifically he was charged with mischief and Criminal harassment and his home was raided, computers/videos seized etc.

He has been in prison since May 16th and all of his subscribers are wanting to know what's going on. An update with no real information was posted on his youtube channel followed by a blackout warning saying there would be no more updates by his friends due to a court request. While I fully understand why a gag order is in place until the trial(to protect the neighbor until the charges are resolved) the entire fiasco is reaching into some controversial waters that will set precedence on freedom to videotape in public or on your own property one way or the other.

Chris does have previous convictions so his treatment is likely more harsh than if he had no record but that's not the issue, the issue is the charges stemming from his use of his video camera on his property, he never even mentions the neighbors real name and his anti-neighborly comments do not involve threats, they occur when he describes the latest he has had to endure because of his neighbors incessant calling of police/bylaw/city officials. The neighbor at one point even built a fence down the side of his laneway to block Chris's truck from passing between the houses and then, according to Chris, he calls parking control to report the truck parked on the street at night. That's the type of stuff said in the videos.

The videos contained nothing illegal, as can be judged by the fact that the videos are all still posted on Youtube and have NOT been removed, but he remains in jail because of them. It's puzzling really.

The entire case feels like it is about to break one way or the other on the issues I mentioned above and is worth following. It has 'precedence setting' written all over it at this point. Unfortunately he's not a rich guy by any means and likely can't afford the lawyer he needs but the courts know that.

(mods) The information I provided in this message is readily available from the local police website directly, they post arrest notices including names, as well as from the videos themselves which are all available online. I'm not adding or omitting anything or revealing information that a google/bing or yahoo search wouldn't reveal. I've followed the case but am curious as to what others think in terms of impact on freedom to videotape in public or on your own property(this is in Canada but elsewhere too).

P.S. I don't know the guy personally nor do I approve of all of his videos. I like projects like the custom stove he welded together but some of his guests are a bit odd. I'm not looking for a personal assessment of him here, just of the vloging related issues.
12:00 pm on May 27, 2012 (gmt 0)

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WebmasterWorld Senior Member piatkow is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

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Over here people have been threatened with arrest for taking photos in the street and others threatened with arrest for objecting to being filmed by a TV crew making a documentary about the police!
12:02 pm on May 27, 2012 (gmt 0)

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WebmasterWorld Senior Member leosghost is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

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Not to mention those arrested in the UK for being too tall..
6:24 am on May 30, 2012 (gmt 0)


WebmasterWorld Administrator phranque is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

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perhaps there's a video rights advocacy organization that can help - something like the electronic privacy information center (EPIC) in the US.
you might get the best information from witness video advocacy groups.
10:14 pm on June 7, 2012 (gmt 0)

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I'm willing to hazard a guess that there's more to this than you or I have access to, and an likely incomplete story is often worse than one not told.

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