A Beverly Hills cop has been accused of using music copyright laws in an attempt to stop an activist from livestreaming their interaction on Instagram.
Sennett Devermont claims in social media posts that he had gone to a Beverly Hills police department on Friday to ask a question about Freedom of Information Act request forms.
Yet he alleges that Sgt. Billy Fair began playing music while Devermont filmed the conversation so as to activate copyright filters and have the video muted or taken down.
The video shows that Fair pulled out his phone to play Sublime’s ‘Santeria’ after asking Devermont whether it was necessary to stream live to his 300,000 followers.
Fair acted after Devermont showed off the name and phone number of another officer that he had just handed him.
Scroll down for video
Activist Sennett Devermont accused Beverly Hills Sgt. Billy Fair of using music copyright laws in an attempt to stop an activist from livestreaming their interaction on Instagram
Devermont shares videos of all his interactions with police officers online and has voiced concern that his right to free speech is being violated by cops playing music when they see his livestream.
Civilians are legally permitted to openly film on-duty police officers under the First Amendment under most circumstances.
‘This is a form of assaulting free speech. He’s playing copyrighted music,’ Devermont told
‘To me, it’s not anti-cop. It’s anti-bad-cop,’ he added of his own streaming.
Instagram has a piracy rule that prevents a lot of music from being played in videos posted to the platform on copyright grounds.
It means that any video with music is subject to removal by Instagram, even if it is only playing in the background.
Pictured, Sergeant Billy Fair
It also means that even if Instagram did not pick up a song in a video immediately, anyone – including a police officer – could report it for copyright infringement if it was saved to an account afterward.
Devermont said he was only in the station to obtain body camera footage from an incident in which he received a ticket he felt was unfair, and to ask if several forms were needed for different incidents with the same officer.
As per the videos, up until the point that Fair realized Devermont was streaming and showing contact information of another officer to his followers, the conversation between the pair had remained friendly.
Yet once the activist refuses to give in and stop the stream, Fair begins to look at his phone to start music and remains silent for over a minute until a large part of a song has played.
In the videos posts to his account named Mr. Checkpoint, Devermont is then seen being told by Fairs that he can’t hear him, as the officer continues to play the music on his phone.
At another point, the officer asks if the two of them can talk without the phone filming him.
Devermont shared several videos of Fair to Instagram in which he appeared to use the tactic
In a second video, which the activist claims was filmed later that afternoon, Devermont approaches Fair as he is allegedly responding to a burglary.
Again, the officer is seen playing music on his phone and telling Devermont he can’t hear him.
Devermont responds by saying that Fair should have his bodycam on as it’s an active crime scene.
‘I read the comments [on your account], they talk about how fake you are,’ Fair hits back.
Devermont has accused Beverly Hills cops of threatening his right to free speech
The activist streams all of his interactions with police officers to social media
They report that he shared with them another video not posted to his public channels in which an officer is already blasting ‘In My Life’ by the Beatles as Devermont approaches.
Instagram has not commented on the videos in question but told Vice that ‘our restrictions take the following into consideration: how much of the total video contains recorded music, the total number of songs in the video, and the length of individual song(s) included in the video.’
Devermont’s videos – including a longer version containing the whole song – have remained on the platform.
Beverly Hills police department has said that it is looking into the incident.
The department told CBS that it does not condone officers playing music on their phones while talking to the public or taking reports.
‘I’m thankful for any time a department’s willing to look into their officers,’ Devermont claimed, yet added that he is ‘always skeptical’.