Cops prove how stupid the SMART Act is

Blasting Disney tunes as a way to foil accountability.

Cory Doctorow
3 min readApr 7, 2022


The three wise monkeys; the faces of hear- and see-no-evil have been replaced with the glowing red eye of HAL9000; the face of speak-no-evil has been replaced with Mickey Mouse. Behind the monkeys is a police car with its lights on. Image: Cryteria (modified) CC BY 3.0: (modified) CC BY-SA 2.0: https://creativeco

Remember back in Feb ’21, when cops in Beverly Hills were caught blaring Taylor Swift songs to prevent videos of their misconduct from being posted to social media by triggering copyright filters?

At the time, the Beverly Hills PD was publicly shocked and appalled by the conduct and promised to root it out. Other police departments didn’t get the memo. One county over, in Santa Ana, cops spent Monday night blaring Disney tunes out of their cruiser in an (unsuccessful) bid to keep themselves off Youtube:

The officer — an SAPD corporal, badge 3134 — woke the sleeping residents of W Civic Center Dr and N Western Ave at 11 p.m., and kept the Disney tunes going for hours until a resident — who was also a Santa Ana city councilor — confronted him.

Councilmember Jonathan Hernandez asked the officer why he was playing Disney music. The officer answered “Because they get copyright infringement,” meaning Youtubers who post videos in which cops play copyrighted music.

Local residents — who wouldn’t go on record because they feared retaliation — told Jessica De Nova for ABC7 that this was a recurring nuisance on their street, with cops routinely playing music to forestall videos of their conduct.

These dirty cops are relying on Youtube’s automated filters, which robotically remove content that matches materials that have been identified as copyrighted works. These has made it effectively impossible for classical musicians to post their own piano recitals of public domain works. Companies have claimed white noise, bird-song, and silence as copyrighted works, with no consequences for overreach.

Incredibly, the US Copyright Office floated a proposal late last year to make these filters mandatory for all platforms: