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Permit May Be Required For Public Photography in NYC 301

Posted by Zonk
from the land-of-the-free dept.
G4Cube passed us a link to a New York Times article about a troubling development in public photography rights. New York City is considering requiring a permit for photographers, film-makers, and even possibly tourists who want to shoot imagery in the Big Apple. "New rules being considered by the Mayor's Office of Film, Theater and Broadcasting would require any group of two or more people who want to use a camera in a single public location for more than a half hour to get a city permit and insurance. The same requirements would apply to any group of five or more people who plan to use a tripod in a public location for more than 10 minutes, including the time it takes to set up the equipment. Julianne Cho, assistant commissioner of the film office, said the rules were not intended to apply to families on vacation or amateur filmmakers or photographers. Nevertheless, the New York Civil Liberties Union says the proposed rules, as strictly interpreted, could have that effect. The group also warns that the rules set the stage for selective and perhaps discriminatory enforcement by police."
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Permit May Be Required For Public Photography in NYC

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  • Re:Absurd (Score:5, Informative)

    by vmxeo (173325) on Saturday June 30, 2007 @07:03AM (#19698639) Homepage Journal
    It's already happened to me and my friends, and more than once. Let me give you one example. I live near the Brooklyn Bridge. Next to the bridge is Fulton Ferry Park. From this park, you have a beautiful view of the Brooklyn Bridge and Lower Manhattan just beyond (shameless self-promotional shot of said park and view from just beyond) [flickr.com]). Two friends of mine wanted to record a brief video message to send to their friend in France who was getting married soon, and we thought it'd be cool to shoot in the park. Upon entry to the park, I was immediately stopped by a park employee who wanted to know what I was doing with my video camera. After explaining what we wanted to do, he told us we would need a permit, which he conveniently had nearby. He said we would need a) permit for filming (both city and state, since it's a state park), b) permit for a 'gathering' of people in the park for the 3 of us and c) proof of insurance. We then got into an arguement, since it clearly stated ON THE PERMIT it was only necessary for commercial use, and mine was clearly personal. His reasoning? My camera was "too professional looking". He then told me I could either pay for the permits then, or leave the park immediately (under threat that if I didn't, he'd call the cops!).


    Another one of my friends who is a professional photographer has been...

    followed by 3 homeland security helicopter as he took pictures from the rooftops of several buildings in the area

    stopped and prevented by a NYC park employee from taking a picture of a building *belonging* to his employer (he just happened to be standing just off the sidewalk on a patch of grass that's technically a park)

    approached by security countless times for taking pictures of buildings from public areas

    Ok, I'm sorry for the venting, but there's an obvious anti-amateur photographer bent in this city. I've shot both with (for actual production projects) and without (personal). If you have a permit, you're gold. Cops let you go wherever you want. Federal marshals protecting government buildings become friendly. If you don't, you're treated worse then dirt. (end rant)

  • by bhmit1 (2270) on Saturday June 30, 2007 @07:14AM (#19698667) Homepage

    The group also warns that the rules set the stage for selective and perhaps discriminatory enforcement by police.
    That pretty much sums up every law that police enforce. More and more laws are being written so that the average citizen will break them and police get to decide if they like you or not. I don't worry about who they decide to enforce the law upon, the bigger issue is who they don't enforce it upon that should raise the most attention. Friends of police officers, people with money and power, middle class america, and most importantly, the law makers would all be furious if they were actually subject to the letter of every law.
  • Re:1st Amendment (Score:4, Informative)

    by STrinity (723872) on Saturday June 30, 2007 @07:25AM (#19698715) Homepage

    Non-informative film making isn't "press", at least not in my country. If the law is to be applied only to professional movie recording, I don't see a clash with the freedom of the press.


    Because the Supreme Court ruled in the 1950s that movie makers are covered by the First Amendment. "Freedom of Speech" covers just about every form of expression that doesn't create an immediate danger.
  • by bzelbob (700100) on Saturday June 30, 2007 @08:52AM (#19699101)
    In the United States today you need:
    - A license to Drive (travel)
    - A license to get married
    - A license to broadcast radio
    - A passport to leave the country
    - A passport to enter the country (unless you're an illegal alien)
    - Permits to run certain types of business
    - Fee, Taxes, etc. on numerous many activities.

    In Addition we have:
    - A mammoth legal code (over ??? pages)
    - A mammoth tax code (over 5,000 pages)
    - Immense corruption in government
    - More and more surveillance cameras going up in stores and in public places

    And now some city wants me to have a permit to take a picture????
    NO. I absolutely refuse!!! I'm gonna photograph my middle finger and
    mail it to them.

    Wake up people and realize that we are living in a Candyland version
    of the soviet union already.

    Don't let our government turn your rights into privileges, licenses and permits.
    They've take too much already and we've let them.
  • by SpzToid (869795) on Saturday June 30, 2007 @09:21AM (#19699247)
    Maybe this law is to be clear: this is what you can do, and what you cannot do; while allowing the preliminary decision to the enforcing officer? Therefore by drawing a line, the arresting officer, (and any subsequent courts in the legal process), can then-and-there decide whether 'the case' and resulting enforcement action is worth the effort. This makes for much efficiency all-'round.

    Did you know in Amsterdam marijuana is illegal, yet its sale is commonplace? The word going around is 'tolerated', but what does that mean? It means you're being an asshole at any time in public involved with a bunch of grass, any officer has the right to persecute you for being an asshole; because clearly you've broken the law.

    Aside from such persecution, the momentary matter is let up to the immediate officer to sort out. This is a tool that allows the officer to do their work efficiently and at relatively low-cost to the overall public. Such an enforcement model exists elsewhere too.

    Maybe as in LA, there's too many blokes obstructing traffic with cameras, and they needed some sort of law on the books to provide beat-cops a tool with which to make the city a nice place to live in?

    - - - -
    Free Paris! Oh wait... God Bless Paris.
  • Re:Absurd (Score:3, Informative)

    by Fred_A (10934) <`fred' `at' `fredshome.org'> on Saturday June 30, 2007 @09:25AM (#19699271) Homepage

    have him call the cops, then.

    he's wrong.

    call him on his shit.

    and also ask for his supervisor and the cop's supervisor, too.

    Woah, now that's not something I'd try. You seem to believe that the police actually cares about that crap ? That they'd side with you for being called into a park because of some guy with a camera ?

    Most likely you'd be in for a nasty (and probably expensive) surprise when the cops get there.
  • Re:1st Amendment (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 30, 2007 @10:38AM (#19699729)
    Since when are you or any other individual A well-regulated Militia?

    The current United States Code, Title 10 (Armed forces), section 311 (Militia: Composition and Classes), paragraph (a) states: "The militia of the United States consists of all able-bodied males at least 17 years of age and, except as provided in section 313 of title 32, under 45 years of age who are, or who have made a declaration of intention to become, citizens of the United States and of female citizens of the United States who are members of the National Guard."

    PS: "Well-regulated" does not mean "well-controlled/governed-under-the-law", but instead it means "Well-equipped and prepared"
  • by DavidTC (10147) <slas45dxsvadiv.v ... x.com minus berr> on Saturday June 30, 2007 @12:30PM (#19700429) Homepage

    They are not intended to prevent terrorists (not sure how you made the connection in the first place, though I am rather curious on that front) but to prevent movie studios from shutting down the city every other day while they make a movie.

    You're an idiot. Movie studios need permits because they, in essence, rent parts of the city. They gain control of a street or a park and can bar people from it at will. Quite obviously, people can't be given the ability walk around claiming sections of public areas for their own, and no one else's, use, for several hours. That sort of activity must have some sort of regulation and, hopefully, payment to the government that owns said space.

    This has nothing to do with someone walking around and filming or taking pictures in a public area without interfering with anyone else's use of the public space, which is what the government has recently started meddling in under the guise of 'terrorism prevention'.

    This is why they're trying to regulate 'groups' and 'tripods' instead of single users, because this law is very very close to be unconstitutional. The government can issue permits allowing groups to take control of places, aka, 'reservations', and courts have said that governments can require groups to make reservations if they are large enough and would be disruptive enough. (I.e, if it's a tiny city park and someone is going to hold a family reunion there and basically take up the entire park for four hours.) And governments can restrict 'equipment' in parks...for example, they can keep out bikes and skateboards, and it looks like they're trying to extend that to tripods.

    Incidentally, as I recall correctly, it was conservatives who made a big outcry over FISA warrants when they were created, not liberals. The current issue with FISA is that the government is utterly ignoring the regulations laid out in it. If I have issues with cops speeding that doesn't mean I have issues with the existence of speed limits, and that premise actually doesn't even make any sense. FISA is a great law, allowing the government to act in emergencies and justify it later. I just wish the government would, you know, obey it.

  • Please RTFA (Score:3, Informative)

    by nwbvt (768631) on Saturday June 30, 2007 @02:34PM (#19701163)

    "This has nothing to do with someone walking around and filming or taking pictures in a public area without interfering with anyone else's use of the public space, which is what the government has recently started meddling in under the guise of 'terrorism prevention'."

    Under the old guidelines, the activity which you described would need a permit. The new guidelines mentioned by this article are intended to clarify them so the guy you speak of would not need a permit. The controversy is that while the new guidelines are certainly better than the old ones (camcorders or hand held video cameras are fine, small parties (under 5 people) are fine, short recording times (under 10 minutes) are fine, etc), some are concerned there are still a few loopholes (like in any law) that could conceivably allow the cops to charge someone like a member of a large tour group who is filming with a tripod while waiting in line for something.

  • Re:Absurd (Score:2, Informative)

    by shaggy43 (21472) on Saturday June 30, 2007 @04:51PM (#19701865)
    According to Keith Olbermann this week, New York hosts 48mm tourists/year.

    I would call that significant, by any measure.

"If truth is beauty, how come no one has their hair done in the library?" -- Lily Tomlin

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