What is the Legal Risk of Recording Over Surveillance Video?

Author: John Honovich, Published on Sep 04, 2011

One common fear among surveillance users is that video will be recorded over before the user knows or is able to retrieve the video. Under such circumstances, fears of lawsuits and litigation are significant.

A recent US court case involving Wal-Mart provides a valuable precedent that users should not be found liable for video recorded over in the normal course of events.

This case was recently upheld on appeal in the New Jersey Superior Court and the full and the full verdict can be found here: State vs Lugo-Pagan decision.

Here are the key particulars in the case:

  • A Wal-Mart security officer noticed suspicious activity of an jewelery department employee stuffing merchandise in Wal-Mart bags. As the employee was leaving, security confronted the defendant and discovered the unpaid bags of merhandise.
  • 7 days after the incident, the defendant requested a copy of the surveillane.
  • 2 months later the court ordered Wal-Mart to provide all video recorded on the date of the incident
  • Wal-Mart only provided short video clips (about 5 minutes each) and could not provide any more as the video was recorded over after 30 days
  • Defendant was found guilty of shoplifting. However, the defendant appealed on the basis of the destroyed surveillance video.
  • The appeal was denied with the Court concluding "It is undisputed that Wal-Mart, and not the police, destroyed the evidential value of the videotapes by taping over them, pursuant to its policy, thirty days later. Where tapes were erased by the police "as a matter of routine," our Supreme Court found no evidence of bad faith by the police. State v. Reynolds, 124 N.J. 559, 569 (1991). Certainly, the erasing of tapes by Wal-Mart cannot be considered evidence of bad faith by the police here. "

We think this is a good case to share with concerned security managers as it is a fairly typical one that involves a prominent end user.

This case should help allay concerns over liability for not having recorded video. While video recording are certainly useful for prosecuting, not having them or only saving some is consistent with the verdict of this case.

Comments : PRO Members only. Login. or Join.

Related Reports

Directory of Access Control and Intrusion Startups on Oct 30, 2018
This directory catalogs access control and intrusion detection startups IPVM has found noteworthy. The directory is provided for your review to...
Former Manufacturer Axcess Sues Avigilon, Genetec, Others for Patent Infringement on Oct 24, 2018
Axcess International, Inc. has sued Avigilon, Genetec and ACTi, among others for patent infringement. Who are they and what are their complaints...
Default Passwords Outlawed in California, US To Follow on Oct 09, 2018
UPDATES A new California bill aimed at improving security for connected devices has been signed into law. The law takes aim especially at...
IACP 2018 Police Show Final Report on Oct 08, 2018
IPVM went to Orlando to cover the 2018 IACP conference, the country's largest police show (about as big as ASIS), examining the 700+...
Evidence Of Hikvision's Involvement With Xinjiang IJOP And Re-Education Camps on Oct 02, 2018
IPVM reveals as-yet unreported details about Hikvision’s activities in Xinjiang - a region of China where massive human rights abuses are being...
BluePoint Aims To Bring Life-Safety Mind-Set To Police Pull Stations on Sep 20, 2018
Fire alarm pull stations are commonplace but police ones are not. A self-funded startup, BluePoint Alert Solutions is aiming to make police pull...
Ascent / MONI Faces Lender Lawsuit and Debt Crisis on Sep 13, 2018
ASCMA, aka Ascent, aka Brinks Home Security, aka MONI, aka Monitronics is being sued by a group of their lenders who allege: As of June 30,...
Congressional Letter Urges Sanctions Against Dahua and Hikvision For Human Rights Abuses on Sep 04, 2018
17 US Congresspeople sent a letter to the Secretary of State and Treasury urging sanctions against Chinese officials plus Dahua and Hikvision,...
France Political Scandal Reveals Video Surveillance Problems on Aug 22, 2018
In what French media describes as "the most damaging crisis yet for" French President Marcon, a political scandal has revealed major gaps in the...
SimpliSafe Violating California, Florida, and Texas Licensing Laws on Aug 14, 2018
IPVM has verified that DIY security system provider SimpliSafe, founded in 2006 and acquired in June of 2018 at a billion dollar valuation, is...

Most Recent Industry Reports

Magos Radar Company Profile on Nov 12, 2018
Magos America General Manager Yaron Zussman admits when he first came across Magos, he asked himself: "What's innovative about radar?" Be that as...
Genetec Privacy Protector Tested on Nov 12, 2018
Genetec has built Kiwi Security's Privacy Protector into Security Center, an analytic which anonymizes individuals in cameras' fields of view...
Chinese Government Increases Hikvision Ownership on Nov 12, 2018
The Chinese government - Hikvision's controlling shareholder - is increasing its ownership of the video surveillance giant amid sharp stock price...
Axis: "No One Wants To Buy A Camera" on Nov 09, 2018
Axis has, in its own description, made a bold declaration: The industry is changing so rapidly that the following statement might seem bold but...
Video Surveillance Hard Drive Size Statistics 2018 on Nov 08, 2018
What is the most common hard drive size for video surveillance? 150+ integrators answered: What size hard drive do you most commonly use? What...
Axis 2N Intercom Tested on Nov 08, 2018
Axis expanded its video intercom business buying Czech-based 2N in 2016. Despite competing against owner Axis' intercoms, 2N recently registered as...
Haven Targets School Security with Lockdown Lineup on Nov 08, 2018
Haven, a US startup founded in 2014 as a residential-focused company, has now raised funding and is offering a lineup of commercial grade locks for...
Ubiquiti Protect Video Surveillance Profile on Nov 07, 2018
Ubiquiti has now been in the video surveillance market for 7 years (see our first coverage back in 2011). In that time, the company's revenue has...
Kogniz Silicon Valley AI Startup Profile on Nov 07, 2018
Kogniz is a Silicon Valley company that aims to bring AI analytics to security and surveillance, centering on their own smart cameras: We spoke...
Dahua Dual Imager Dome Camera Tested (HDBW4231FN-E2-M) on Nov 07, 2018
Dahua has introduced a dual-imager dome model, the HDBW4231FN-E2-M, with two independently positionable sensors including integrated IR, not found...

The world's leading video surveillance information source, IPVM provides the best reporting, testing and training for 10,000+ members globally. Dedicated to independent and objective information, we uniquely refuse any and all advertisements, sponsorship and consulting from manufacturers.

About | FAQ | Contact