How Can Live PD Show Suspects' Faces Without Consent?

A+E Networks
A+E Networks

Viewers of the hit A&E reality series Live PD, which airs in two-hour blocks on Friday and Saturday nights, have come to expect at least two recurring elements as camera crews follow around six police departments from around the country. The first is that officers will be searching for marijuana in vehicles. (And will usually find it.) The second is that civilians idling in cars or on front porches will sometimes say they are not offering their consent to be filmed. Can the show really “out” suspects by broadcasting their faces on live television without permission?

To make sense of this legal quagmire, it helps to know that Live PD is not exactly live. While the program’s control center cuts between the various participating police departments in real time, it’s not airing the same way: Producers require a delay, in the event a gruesome crime occurs or an undercover officer is accidentally filmed, among other reasons. The show’s producers won’t say exactly how long the delay is, though in 2017, executive producer David Doss told NBC that it’s typically several minutes. (A representative for A&E did not follow up with our request for comment.)

Is that long enough to acquire written consent from involved parties to broadcast their image to millions of viewers? In some cases, yes.

Tulsa, Oklahoma resident Randy Wallace was featured on the show in February 2017 and later criticized the police department for implying he was a gang member. In press interviews, Wallace admitted he signed a waiver when a production team member presented it to him. (The Tulsa PD later declined to renew its agreement to be involved with the show.) The production, Wallace said, wanted permission to use his image and likeness.

A person has his face blurred during A&E's 'Live PD'
A&E Networks

But not everyone is presented with forms to sign. In Walton County, Florida, a man who was detained on suspicion of driving a stolen vehicle and handcuffed on the show said he was never offered the option of signing any forms and was angry he had been depicted as a criminal. (The man owned the car and he was not arrested.)

Legally, the show was probably within its legal rights on both occasions, thanks to the machinations of the right to privacy laws: Namely, if you’re out in public, you don’t have those rights.

“When you’re outside in a public place, you have no expectation of privacy,” Mark Rosenberg, an attorney specializing in intellectual property law, tells Mental Floss. “You can video people and use them on television.”

Of course, there are limitations. Cameras for Live PD typically idle outside private residences unless they’re invited in. Footage of people in doorways is typically captured from where someone passing by would see them from the street.

People asked to sign waivers may have been approached by producers because they’d like to use the footage for publicity purposes—a television commercial, for example, or some other advertisement for the show. “If they’re using someone’s face for advertising, that gets outside whatever newsworthy element may be involved,” Rosenberg says.

Should you ever find yourself detained by police with a full camera crew in tow, don’t expect you need to give them your permission—or withdraw your consent—to be filmed.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

Why is Winnie the Pooh Called a Pooh?

iStock.com/CatLane
iStock.com/CatLane

Since A.A. Milne published the first official Winnie the Pooh story in 1926, the character has become beloved by children across many generations. Milne’s writing clearly struck a chord, and the character’s many subsequent TV and film adaptations have endeared him to an even wider audience.

But why is Winnie called a Pooh rather than a bear? Given that most children (and grown-ups, for that matter) have a different idea of what a Pooh is, how has the name stuck?

The answer lies back in the 1920s.

In fact, when first introduced by Milne, Winnie wasn’t even Winnie. Initially, he went by the name of Edward Bear, before changing to Winnie in time for that aforementioned official 1926 debut. The "Winnie" part of the name came from a visit to the London Zoo, where Milne saw a black bear who had been named after the city of Winnipeg, Canada.

As for Pooh? Well, originally Pooh was a swan, a different character entirely.

In the book When We Were Very Young (the same book that introduced Edward Bear), Milne wrote a poem, telling how Christopher Robin would feed the swan in the mornings.

He told how Christopher Robin had given the swan the name "Pooh," explaining that “this is a very fine name for a swan, because if you call him and he doesn’t come (which is a thing swans are good at), then you can pretend that you were just saying ‘Pooh!’ to show him how little you wanted him."

Milne indeed knew what he was doing by using such a word. The names "Winnie" and "Pooh" were soon brought together, and Winnie the Pooh was born. Milne still took a little time out to explain why Winnie was a Pooh, though.

As he would write in the first chapter of the first Winnie the Pooh book, “But his arms were so stiff ... they stayed up straight in the air for more than a week, and whenever a fly came and settled on his nose he had to blow it off. And I think—but I am not sure—that that is why he is always called Pooh."

It's not the most convincing explanation, but it's a formal explanation nonetheless.

Not that the reasoning ultimately mattered too much. The name stuck, having never seen a focus group in its life. A much loved childhood character, with a vaguely funny name, would go on to superstardom. And even be honored with his own holiday, Winnie the Pooh Day, which occurs annually on January 18th.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

Why is Winnie the Pooh Called a Pooh?

iStock.com/CatLane
iStock.com/CatLane

Since A.A. Milne published the first official Winnie the Pooh story in 1926, the character has become beloved by children across many generations. Milne’s writing clearly struck a chord, and the character’s many subsequent TV and film adaptations have endeared him to an even wider audience.

But why is Winnie called a Pooh rather than a bear? Given that most children (and grown-ups, for that matter) have a different idea of what a Pooh is, how has the name stuck?

The answer lies back in the 1920s.

In fact, when first introduced by Milne, Winnie wasn’t even Winnie. Initially, he went by the name of Edward Bear, before changing to Winnie in time for that aforementioned official 1926 debut. The "Winnie" part of the name came from a visit to the London Zoo, where Milne saw a black bear who had been named after the city of Winnipeg, Canada.

As for Pooh? Well, originally Pooh was a swan, a different character entirely.

In the book When We Were Very Young (the same book that introduced Edward Bear), Milne wrote a poem, telling how Christopher Robin would feed the swan in the mornings.

He told how Christopher Robin had given the swan the name "Pooh," explaining that “this is a very fine name for a swan, because if you call him and he doesn’t come (which is a thing swans are good at), then you can pretend that you were just saying ‘Pooh!’ to show him how little you wanted him."

Milne indeed knew what he was doing by using such a word. The names "Winnie" and "Pooh" were soon brought together, and Winnie the Pooh was born. Milne still took a little time out to explain why Winnie was a Pooh, though.

As he would write in the first chapter of the first Winnie the Pooh book, “But his arms were so stiff ... they stayed up straight in the air for more than a week, and whenever a fly came and settled on his nose he had to blow it off. And I think—but I am not sure—that that is why he is always called Pooh."

It's not the most convincing explanation, but it's a formal explanation nonetheless.

Not that the reasoning ultimately mattered too much. The name stuck, having never seen a focus group in its life. A much loved childhood character, with a vaguely funny name, would go on to superstardom. And even be honored with his own holiday, Winnie the Pooh Day, which occurs annually on January 18th.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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