Oakland PD Using Flickr Photos To Identify Looters


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I saw an article on the the San Francisco Chronicle web site today entitled “Oakland Police Looking for Looting Suspects.” The article reports on the Oakland Police Department’s latest efforts to prosecute looters who participated in last week’s Johannes Merserle protest that turned violent with rioting and looting taking place after dark. Oakland PD has now released a number of photos of alleged looters from that evening’s protest.

Looter Runs Down Broadway With Items Taken From Foot Locker, Oakland Riots, 2010

The people in the photos are “involved criminal activity” and could face arrest and prosecution, said Officer Jeff Thomason, a police spokesman.

Interestingly enough I recognized several of the photographs that the Oakland PD had released as my own photos that I’d taken the night of the riots and had posted to my own Flickr account. I was never contacted by the Oakland PD regarding their use or distribution by Oakland PD. It’s interesting to see law enforcement taking photos by citizen media and using them this way. I wonder about the legality behind this sort of use. Would the Oakland PD be able to also rebroadcast or redistribute photos or video from established mainstream media? And I wonder if the police have to abide by the copyrights of individual photographers in redistributing their work or if they have some sort of legal protection.