Presuming videos recorded in public, are such videos generally open to public inspection?

If not, are such videos open to public inspection in non-criminal proceedings, for e.g. in traffic investigations where the police finds no criminal misconduct?

  • A video submitted to the police in response to a public appeal for information may be of someone whose actions were completely unrelated to the crime. Why should there be a documented public record of, say, me being in a certain location at a particular time/date? Such a video probably would be catalogued so as to be able to cross-reference with other information, leading to solving the crime. Jan 8, 2022 at 15:03
  • Clarified the question, thanks!
    – kisspuska
    Jan 8, 2022 at 21:11

2 Answers 2


It depends on what stage of the investigation they are in and if the evidence is useful at all to police. If it's going to be used as evidence of a crime against someone, it will be disclosed to the public likely before the trial, as in the United States, all evidence must be publically disclosed at trial. There are some exceptions that the courts may withhold (such as in cases with a minor child as the victim) but they will be presented to the jury. Journalist Ethics and Broadcast standards may also add blurs to keep the identities of bystanders from being aired, but that is on the burden of the network to make sure those edits are made.


See law on legality of public video recording in California.

Then, consider different cases of who took the video. If it was video recorded by police, that is a publicly owned body but what exactly ends up available for public review, in what format, and at what time is subject to department or state policy. If it was video lawfully taken by an individual, I suspect it might be handled like an individual's journal or intellectual property. It can be taken in as evidence but is only viewed by members of the court. In court proceeding records, the evidence (an exhibit) would only be named and described. This makes sense when you consider that a video may contain more information than is relevant to a case and it might still be intellectual property despite persons in it having no claim to expectation of privacy. It makes further sense when you consider that people often file lawsuits that are bogus just to test their luck. If all the evidence pulled for such lawsuits was free to view for the public, a bogus lawsuit could be used just to transfer a video from someone's personal computer to the public and lead to a cascade of suits.

  • 3
    I don't see an actual answer anywhere in here.
    – bdb484
    Jan 9, 2022 at 7:43

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .