Alameda County Sheriff’s Office

Sheriff Sergeant Plays Taylor Swift Song to Avoid Activists' Video Being Put on YouTube

NBC Universal, Inc.

Taylor Swift songs typically go viral but not for this reason.

A sergeant with the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office in Northern California may be in trouble after he played one of Taylor Swift’s hit songs on his cell phone while an activist recorded him.

“It’s not a good look for law enforcement,” said Sgt. Ray Kelly with the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office.

On Tuesday, Sergeant D. Shelby was recorded approaching members of the activist group, Anti-Police Terror Project, who gathered outside an Oakland courthouse to listen to a pre-trial hearing of a former officer charged with manslaughter in San Leandro.

“There’s rules that the court has set up about protests and distances and signage,” Kelly added.

After Shelby noticed that someone filming was him, he then takes out his own cell phone and started to play Taylor Swift's popular song "Blank Space."

“He took his phone and he put it right over his body cam. So, I thought he was trying to drown out the noise,” said James Burch, policy director for the Anti-Police Terror Project.

Then, the sergeant explained his reason for blasting T-Swift.

"Why do you have to hide?" an activist asked Shelby in the video.

"You can record all you want. I just know it can’t be posted to YouTube," Shelby said in the video.

“It’s definitely a hot button issue because Taylor Swift's music is involved and copyright laws are involved,” Burch said.

As of Thursday afternoon, the video is still up on YouTube.

A spokesperson for YouTube told NBC Bay Area on Thursday that their copyright rules are a lot more complicated than Shelby thinks they are.

For starters, the copyright music has to be loud enough.

Secondly, the spokesperson said that every music label has their own policy when it comes to their songs appearing in YouTube videos. Some allow it, some monetize it and others block it.

Kelly told NBC Bay Area that they do not condone this behavior and have asked Internal Affairs to look into it.

“We are human beings, and we do get caught up in the moment. But the public expects us not to get caught up in those moments. So, this is a situation where I’m sure it won’t happen again," he said.

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