A friend of mine recently asked for advice regarding an incident at the place they work. They work at a dog daycare in Pennsylvania which offers a live feed on the cameras. On one of their off days, they were watching the feed when they saw an employee abusing an animal by repeatedly striking it. They contacted a co-worker, who saved off a copy of the footage. That said, they're worried about getting into legal trouble if they acknowledge having downloaded the video footage. Initially, they were planning to put it out on YouTube to shame the owners. They've considered just forwarding it on to law enforcement, but are unsure as to whether animal abuse will actually be pursued if there isn't some public pressure, so they considered sending it to local news.

On one hand, it was publicly viewable footage. On the other hand, since she was not recording her screen at the time, they had to resort to using data off of the company's server. Gripping hand, they basically have evidence of a crime (albeit probably a minor one). Do they have to worry about criminal charges in such a situation?

  • You really ought to involve the manager in this. Feb 19 at 16:05
  • Based on how they've talked about their manager in the past, I have a sneaking suspicion that bringing it up would lead to the footage getting deleted and both of them losing their jobs. Which yes, would probably count under retaliation firing, but would also result in them being out of work and lawyers are expensive.
    – SCD
    Feb 19 at 16:09
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    Sounds like co-worker number 2 committed some sort of unlawful access of a protected system. Feb 19 at 17:22
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    @SCD Please note that no one who is saying this is actually discussing any laws that would apply here, as most of the users -- and especially the commenters -- don't really know any more about the law than you do; they mostly just offer stream-of-consciousness riffs based on what they've seen on Law & Order. A useful answer would consider the actual laws -- state and federal -- governing off-hours access to the computer system and the employees' protections as a whistleblower reporting a possible crime.
    – bdb484
    Feb 19 at 18:03
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    The people involved here are all employees of the company which owns and operates the camera system, right? Isn't being on the lookout for, reporting, and preventing animal abuse one reason the company gave them access to this camera system in the first place? They might not be allowed to put it up on YouTube to make the company look bad because it's hard to argue that the company intends them to do that, but they ought to be able to do anything that the company actually wants them to do with it, acting in their capacity as agents of the company.
    – interfect
    Feb 20 at 15:36

1 Answer 1



The video is protected by copyright, so it is illegal to make or distribute a copy without the permission of the owner (the dog daycare). In Australia, there is no public interest defence to copyright infringement.

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