Consider the sad tale Joe Masters ’02 and the pin hole camera.

A Yale Law School student’s roommate searching a computer hard drive for an episode of “24” discovered that a third roommate and his girlfriend were unwitting stars in a clandestinely filmed video of them showering together in the apartment.

Joseph Masters, 26, who lives in an apartment in the 1200 block of Chapel St., was arrested Thursday on voyeurism charges. According to the arrest warrant, Masters used a pinhole camera he received as a gift to film unknowing subjects — namely one roommate, that roommate’s girlfriend, and his own girlfriend — in the apartment.

Masters’ two roommates filed a complaint with police in April after one of the roommates found video footage of the third roommate and his girlfriend showering together in an apartment bathroom. Both appear naked getting in and out of the shower in the video, which was shot when the camera was set near the sink in the apartment’s main bathroom, according to the warrant. The video ends showing Masters removing the camera and bringing it to his bedroom.

One roommate stumbled upon the video on April 3 while he was searching for an episode of the television series “24” on his laptop. All three roommates’ computers were linked through a common wireless network set up by Masters, who is computer savvy and owns an out-of-state computer-based business called Builderadius, according to the warrant.

Yale’s directory lists Masters as a member of the Yale School of Law’s class of 2007.

He had a large amount of computer equipment at the apartment, and police seized much of it while executing a search warrant April 5.

Masters told police that he installed the pinhole camera in the apartment out of “sheer curiosity.” He admitted to making two videos, the one of the roommate and his girlfriend in the shower, and another one of his own girlfriend in another location, according to the warrant.

Masters’ girlfriend told police that Masters admitted to her that he had filmed the video without her knowledge and that he said he was seeking psychological counseling. She does not plan to file a criminal complaint against him, according to the warrant.

Masters is due to be arraigned June 17 in Superior Court in New Haven.

Good luck with that arraignment. The obvious lesson for the rest of us is the same that it has been for many years. Never, ever do anything with a computer — document, e-mail, blog post, video, anything — that you would not want to see on the front page of the New York Times.

Now, in the best of all possible worlds, Ephs would do the right thing (i.e., not take videos of naked people without their permission) automatically. They would not need the fear of exposure to constrain their actions. But, in this imperfect world, fear (and shame) serves a useful purpose. Don’t want to end up like Masters? Don’t do anything suspect with a computer. If it is electronic, it isn’t always private.

A cynic might view this as advice-giving to miscreants. Am I arguing that Masters should feel free to spy on his roommates? No! But, if he insists on acting in such a sketchy fashion, he had better leave his computer (or any other permanent record) out of the exercise.

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