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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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  • Absurd (Score:5, Interesting)

    by BWJones (18351) * on Saturday June 30, 2007 @03:25AM (#19697819) Homepage Journal
    Oh great. Just what we need are more incidents like this [utah.edu] and this [thomashawk.com]. Who gets to define "amateur"? Or how about what is really going to happen is simply giving the police more latitude in harassing photographers who are operating from open, public spaces already paid for in taxes by the taxpayer? From this text Mr. Dunn suggested that the city deliberately kept the language vague, and that as a result police would have broad discretion in enforcing the rules. I'd say that it looks like it. Also, from the article 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. Why a tripod? Does that make for a professional? If so, I must be a triple professional, because I have three tripods. ;-) Seriously though, this is the sort of law that sounds like it was put together over a drinking game by a couple of high school students, but in reality it has been assembled by a group of mid level government bureaucrats who obviously have not thought very far down the road as to the possible implications, legal or otherwise. For instance, The draft rules say the office could take up to 30 days to issue a permit, but Ms. Cho said she expected that most would be issued within 24 hours. leading me to wonder: Will the film student, of which there are many in NYC have to now go and apply for a permit and a $1 million dollar insurance policy for every single class assignment? What about the news agencies who might have to report on breaking stories? Will they be breaking the law covering the news?

    This is simply absurd and as a photographer, I will *not* be traveling into NYC if this proposed policy becomes law.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      the city deliberately kept the language vague, and that as a result police would have broad discretion in enforcing the rules.
      Yeah. Because that always works out so well...
      • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 30, 2007 @09:20AM (#19698953)
        ...need a kick in the face.

        'Nuff said.
      • Re:Absurd (Score:5, Insightful)

        by BakaHoushi (786009) <(Goss.Sean) (at) (gmail.com)> on Saturday June 30, 2007 @10:10AM (#19699193) Homepage
        Don't worry. When they pass the new legislation that will allow police officers to shoot anyone they don't like on sight, they will only use it to protect us from the terrorists* lurking around every corner right now.

        This has been a message from the US Department of Fuck the Constitution.

        *Not a guarantee, if you don't like it, move to Canada you pinko commie.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          This has been a message from the US Department of Fuck the Constitution.

          Awesome. Wish I had mod points. Hopefully the Supreme Court will remain sane and strike this down right quick. Otherwise I can see a lot of college photography students getting selectively harassed ...I mean investigated... in the future...

    • by RobotRunAmok (595286) on Saturday June 30, 2007 @07:33AM (#19698563)
      The IRS.
    • by cheekyboy (598084) on Saturday June 30, 2007 @07:36AM (#19698567) Homepage Journal
      I hope that quadpods are not part of the law, I will make a killing selling these so you will never break the law.

      Shh govt types who dont know what real work is.... i have a pentapod and sexapod and octapods ready too.

      I have a proposal, sack 100% of all middle govt goons.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by ScrewMaster (602015)
        I think there might be fewer problems with bad laws if more of us had tripods like this [wikipedia.org] one.
    • Re:Absurd (Score:4, Funny)

      by j00r0m4nc3r (959816) on Saturday June 30, 2007 @07:59AM (#19698633)
      I did a search for "amateur pictures" on Google images, and let me tell you, I am in favor of allowing THAT kind of phototography in public places in NYC. In fact, I think there is a definite shortage of amateur photography taking place.
    • Re:Absurd (Score:5, Informative)

      by vmxeo (173325) on Saturday June 30, 2007 @08:03AM (#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)

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Hrmm, you guys should get some arabic looking guy with all those permits to go around trying the same thing. Better yet, maybe Brazillian or Indian just to find out if the dumbasses can even stereotype by ethnicity or just skin tones :)

        Honestly though, we need to change the 'land of the free' bit to 'land of the bureaucracy'.

        Capta was: ceases, like ceases to care, or ceases to have liberties :)
        • get some arabic looking guy ... find out if the dumbasses can even stereotype by ethnicity or just skin tones

          Interestingly enough, the term "arab" as used by many westerners is actually a stereotype of its own. Iran is not an Arab country. A large percentage of the population of Iraq (at least 20%) are not Arabs. The term has become much like the term "mexican", which is widely used in the U.S. to refer to anyone from Central or South American. It's also like saying "muslim looking."

          I bring this up beca

      • 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.

        the only reason they can get away with it is because sheeple LET them get away with it.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by Fred_A (10934)

          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.

      • Strikes me that your lives have been so transformed by all this that in many ways they can already claim victory. Your nation is now so frightened of its own shadow that one by one your personal freedoms are being stripped away in the name of "security". And the sad thing is, you're doing it to yourselves.

        • You're forgetting one detail. We're going to drop a bomb on their head during their victory celebration. And, we're going to steal their camels.

          Plus, we're going to steal their culture and their food and sell it at Disney World.

        • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

          by nwbvt (768631)

          What does this have to do with terrorism? These permits have been required since long before 9-11 (this law is actually just limiting who needs them). 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. However the old rules were very vague, so they were forced to revisit them. Now with this new law they are much mor

          • You ask, "What does this have to do with terrorism?" If you belive these new rules are for some other reason, please explain.

            You say these "permits" have been required long before 9-11 happened. I agree with you on that point, movie studios and other commercial filmers shouild require some type of permit.

            You say the old rules were very vague and the new rules much more specific with even the NYCLU admiting that. The following quote from the linked article seems to disagree with your statement. "Mr. Dunn sug
          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by DavidTC (10147)

            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 f

            • Please RTFA (Score:3, Informative)

              by nwbvt (768631)

              "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 n

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Somnus (46089)
            A freedom troll -- now I've seen everything.

            When the NSA stops conducting warrantless searches, I no longer have to pour my shampoo in cute little bottles to get through airport security, I can peaceably take photos at any public place, and I'm not toting a National ID with a bar code within 10 years, I'll grant you your point.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by EtoilePB (1087031)
        I live in NYC now; before that, I lived in Boston.

        After 2001, Boston made regulations about photography in certain places. Namely, you're not allowed to take pictures of anything T (public transit). Not the trains, not the buses,not the employees, nothing. One day at Park Street I saw a Japanese woman (the quintessential stereotypical tourist) who clearly didn't speak a word of English get carted away by two beefy officers because she was taking pictures of her family standing next to a Green Line trai
        • I think this is great, it lets the rest of the world know 100% for sure,
          that our country is being run by paranoid jack asses that can't
          figure out that the terrorists can take pictures from inside their
          vehicles with telephoto lenses.

          Strong arming a tourist that doesn't speak the language
          because someone lady from japan might be working for Osama...

          What a bunch of "Can't think for themselves, dumb asses."

      • Re:Absurd (Score:5, Interesting)

        by nbauman (624611) on Saturday June 30, 2007 @10:35AM (#19699331) Homepage Journal

        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 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!).
        You could pay him for the permit? Right then and there? That's ridiculous. The permits are issued by the Mayor's Office for Film, Theater and Broadcasting (which is only open Monday-Friday 8:30am-4:30pm). He was trying to shake you down.

        As one of the other posters said, I would have called him on it, and let him call the cops. (In NYC, you have to be confrontational just to get through the day.)

        I would have asked him for his identification -- and taken his picture. Turn on the camera and ask him to tell you on camera that you need a permit and he can sell you one right there.

        I think that would be a good video. Go around the City with a camera, and record park department employees and cops when they come up to you telling you that you need a permit, and record the idiotic conversations that ensue. "I'm an amateur. What makes you say I'm a professional?" etc.

        Go to the Mayor's Office for Film, Theater and Broadcasting and ask them, on camera, how they tell the difference between an amateur and a professional.

        Tell them at the Mayor's Office those stories you've just told us, and ask them how you're supposed to get a permit just to take a video of some friends.
        • by vmxeo (173325)

          You could pay him for the permit? Right then and there? That's ridiculous. The permits are issued by the Mayor's Office for Film, Theater and Broadcasting (which is only open Monday-Friday 8:30am-4:30pm). He was trying to shake you down.

          Yeah, that's exactly what I thought too. I would have argued it more, but my two female friends were getting very uncomfortable with the whole situation. We left, and went to the pier on the other side of the bridge, and nobody cared. I could go on and on about that park (Fulton Ferry Park for you NYC'ers), but I won't.

        • by Reziac (43301) *
          And then give all the best footage to the various media outlets, most especially the tabloid types that will spin it to its worst advantage, so that the entire metro population could become suitably outraged.

      • I own a canon eos-3D with lenses and flashes, batter handle etc. I'm sure i look profesional to any cop, but i'm just someone learning for fun. I do art professionaly in other areas but i'm sure a cop with an attitude would think that i'm just some stuck up photographer that thinks he's better than the cop and that i dont need a permit etc etc...

        Frankly its fucking dumb that you cant take a picture in public anywhere. But America is fucking dumb frankly. I'm tired of our idea of freedom.

        I live in NY.
    • by pla (258480)
      Why a tripod? Does that make for a professional?

      And more importanty - so what? "Professional" photographers have just as much right as a tourist to stand around taking pictures. Even (gasp!) for commercial purposes!



      This is simply absurd and as a photographer, I will *not* be traveling into NYC if this proposed policy becomes law.

      You won't miss out on much. I've visited once - Wouldn't go back, for anything (though Spamalot tempted me). The air sucks, you feel like you need a shower after touch
      • by tha_mink (518151)

        NYC really doesn't have a whole lot worth seeing in the first place.


        I'm really trying to figure out if you're kidding or just an idiot. Hate to be abrasive, but you've only been there once, and it sounds like you made a nice little tourist visit. "Times Square?" Please. "NYC really doesn't have a whole lot worth seeing in the first place"? Rube.
        • by TheLink (130905)
          Move along, nothing to see here.

          Or photograph of course.
        • by pla (258480)
          I'm really trying to figure out if you're kidding or just an idiot.

          No, quite serious. I won't say I hated my visit, because I went for a specific event that I quite enjoyed. But everything else about the entire city I found loathesome.

          I would not go there again, and I would not recommed it as a tourist destination to anyone that asked.

          Just my opinion... Take it or leave it. And if you think that makes me an idiot, well, you have a right to your opinions as well.
          • by tha_mink (518151)

            No, quite serious. I won't say I hated my visit, because I went for a specific event that I quite enjoyed. But everything else about the entire city I found loathesome.


            You're not an idiot for your opinion, your an idiot for your statement "NYC really doesn't have a whole lot worth seeing in the first place." That is just entirely factually inaccurate.
    • ...believe it or not.

      Reading TFA, there has hitherto been an unpublished law in NYC, arbitarily enforced against photographers.

      At least now you get to know your rights.

      Maybe some large studio with good lawyers could get this law (published or unpublished) struck down.

    • by nwbvt (768631)
      Ok, first of all, you do realize this is nothing new, right? The requirements that filmmakers need permits have been there for a long time. The purpose of this law is to codify exactly who does and does not a permit, as there had been some controversy over things like whether families taking movies with their camcorder (that is why only tripods are included, btw) could be covered. The NYCLU isn't mad at the law itself, they just feel that it is still too vague in a few aspects. In fact, from TFA, Christ
    • by Ucklak (755284)
      Tripod and crew.
      Tripod and crew.

      Crew implies professional.
      Bounce screens implies professional.
      Crew implies professional.

      Granted, it sounds like a police state but if you RTFA, I can understand the point of view from the citys perspective.
      I've you've ever lived through a freaknik in Atlanta, you would want this sort of thing.

      A bunch of `photographers` stopping traffic, either foot or motor vehincle, is unwanted if it's amateur.
      • A bunch of `photographers` stopping traffic, either foot or motor vehincle, is unwanted if it's amateur.

        So when that happens, you charge the offenders appropriately, and fine them when convicted. Make the fines large enough, and people will stop getting in the way of everyone else.
    • by mikael (484)
      Also, from the article 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. Why a tripod?

      Timelapse photographers. The tripod is necessary to keep the camera steady, otherwise the resulting movie clip ends up looking like a 70's earthquake disaster movie. Timelapse typically speeds things up by x5 or x10, so for 5 minutes of animation, you will need to be on location for 25 to 50 minutes. And to make a good timelapse movie you need to be
  • 1st Amendment (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Antony-Kyre (807195) on Saturday June 30, 2007 @07:06AM (#19698465)
    Last I checked, cities cannot override 1st Amendment rights. I believe this falls under the freedom of the press.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Tuoqui (1091447)
      They've been doing it for years. Ever since that PATRIOT Act was put into place.

      At the rate the US Government is going there wont be any First Amendment in a few years. Maybe they should have a protest in the form of a funeral for it. It might open up people's eyes instead of just running down a street chanting slogans.
      • by ari_j (90255)
        I suspect that you have conflated the US and NYC. I wouldn't get too worried - the two are not on speaking terms.
    • by jimicus (737525)
      Non-US tourists may not know this, and most people won't have the backup of being able to say "I'm a journalist, here's my ID".
    • by nwbvt (768631)

      "Last I checked, cities cannot override 1st Amendment rights."

      When did you last check, prior to the passage of the 1st Amendment? Thats never been the case. The 1st Amendment only applies to laws passed by the federal government, ie congress. Cities do not fall under it. For those of you have forgotten high school government class, here is the text itself:

      Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech,

  • Not only is this idea completely unrealistic, doesn't it violate unalienable rights? I thought those were supposed to be protected...

    Whats next? Arrested for gazing upon a copyrighted building design. Come on...
    • Re:Absolutly Insane (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Threni (635302) on Saturday June 30, 2007 @07:15AM (#19698491)
      > Arrested for gazing upon a copyrighted building design. Come on...

      I was in the US a few years ago (2003, on..how you say..vacation from the UK) and was taking pictures of the big black building in Pittsburgh which looks like it should be in a Batman film, when a fat guy in a uniform came out of it and told me I couldn't take pictures. Clearly he was wrong - all I had to do was to walk around to another part of the building where he couldn't see me (or couldn't waddle up to me fast enough to stop me) but it was a little unsettling as I didn't want to spend the next few hours talking to the police about how I wasn't a terrorist, or get deported.

      So I think this sort of law just formalizes harassment that I'm sure many other people have received for a while now.
  • One Sided Article (Score:5, Interesting)

    by eldavojohn (898314) * <.moc.liamg. .ta. .nhojovadle.> on Saturday June 30, 2007 @07:09AM (#19698471) Journal
    This article is pretty one sided (not that that is bad) so I'm wondering what happened or what is the cause of these new laws?

    Usually when you change the law, it's because something happened. I would like to know what failure the current laws have suffered and I didn't really find there to be a lot of comments from the New York City government on this issue, just civil liberties groups.

    So as far as I can guess, there are two possible reason. The first is the ole' terrorism card where we can't have people that might be terrorists casing targets and what not. The second possible reason is that it is becoming easier and easier to garner thousands of viewers (like the article mentions) via sites like YouTube by posting your work online. Is the city targeting these people the same way it targets major Hollywood film companies?

    I'm kind of disappointed this article didn't accurately reflect both sides of the issue. I can see several downsides to these laws but is there at least a reason for changing them in the first place? Not a lot of information here from NYC.

    The Mayor's Office of Film, Theatre & Broadcasting [nyc.gov] seems to be concerned primarily with fining large companies. The free permit you can apply for online states:

    The permit we issue to your production is free of charge, and provides access to public locations and street parking for essential production vehicles throughout 300 square miles of public settings in the city's five boroughs, including 27,000 acres of city parks.

    When your project is shooting at an exterior location which requires traffic control, or has a scene with prop firearms, weapons or actors in police uniforms, you must request that the NYPD Movie and TV Unit be assigned to your location. The police unit will assign its officers at no charge to you.

    All decisions about what is permitted are made by the Mayor's Office of Film, Theatre & Broadcasting, working in close consultation with the NYPD Movie & TV Unit, and other key city agencies. We have the experience and resources to facilitate your production requests.

    Filming in city parks, interiors of city buildings, bridges, subways or tunnels will require additional permissions from the controlling entities. Please contact our office to obtain specific contact information.
    Which seems fairly reasonable for one of the largest & most densely populated cities in the United States. With amatures having an easier means of publication, the laws could change to keep NYC's MOFTB informed of filming on a regular or extended basis.

    Now, I'm well aware of the abuse that police & law enforcement could use this for against citizens, tourists & people of certain ethnicities, but I think the article already adequately reflected the concerns.

    What was glossed over was the apparent good these laws would do:

    Mr. Dunn said most of the new rules were reasonable. Notably, someone using a hand-held video camera, as Mr. Sharma was doing, would no longer have to get a permit.
    So, am I to believe that there's a few laws that are questionable while other laws are going to protect people (as in Mr. Sharma's case) from being arrested? Sounds pretty reasonable to me.

    Still, it really causes one to wonder, what's the reason for the change in these laws?
    • Re:One Sided Article (Score:5, Interesting)

      by niceone (992278) * on Saturday June 30, 2007 @07:43AM (#19698591) Journal
      Still, it really causes one to wonder, what's the reason for the change in these laws?

      It is in the article (right at the end):

      In May 2005, Rakesh Sharma, an Indian documentary filmmaker, was using a hand-held video camera in Midtown Manhattan when he was detained for several hours and questioned by police.

      During his detention, Mr. Sharma was told he was required to have a permit to film on city property. According to a lawsuit, Mr. Sharma sought information about how permits were granted and who was required to have one but found there were no written guidelines. Nonetheless, the film office told him he was required to have a permit, but when he applied, the office refused to grant him one and would not give him a written explanation of its refusal.

      As part of a settlement reached in April, the film office agreed to establish written rules for issuing permits. Mr. Sharma could not be reached for comment yesterday.
      • by xigxag (167441) on Saturday June 30, 2007 @08:11AM (#19698661)
        So basically, they grabbed this poor guy for b.s. reasons (brown-skinned plus camera = terrorist), and now they've got to come up with a whole mechanism to justify doing it again in the future.
      • So basically this "poor guy" filed a lawsuit after being detained for several hours, and now, thanks to a frivolous lawsuit, we have these new regulations.
      • 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 p
    • Filming in city parks, interiors of city buildings, bridges, subways or tunnels will require additional permissions from the controlling entities. Please contact our office to obtain specific contact information.

      Which seems fairly reasonable for one of the largest & most densely populated cities in the United States. With amatures having an easier means of publication, the laws could change to keep NYC's MOFTB informed of filming on a regular or extended basis.

      Just what is 'reasonable' about requiring paperwork to film in open areas like city parks or bridges? Or subways and tunnels for that matter? If the worry is that people will make a nuisance of themselves, then regulate THAT because there are more ways to really clog up the system than just deploying a large camera crew.

      other laws are going to protect people (as in Mr. Sharma's case) from being arrested?

      WTF? We need laws to protect people from getting arrested? It sounds like you've completely internalized the "9/11 changed everything" bullshit. In a free society anything and everyth

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by vertinox (846076)
      The first is the ole' terrorism card where we can't have people that might be terrorists casing targets and what not.

      Which leads me to wonder, when was the last time anyone of us saw terrorists with tripods?

      I mean... If you want to be a terrorist, you just strap on a vest of C4 and walk into the nearest crowd. Its not like the terrorists had to take pictures of the area first to plan their "get away" after the fact.
    • Unfortunately, your argument turns around the argument that it seems reasonable for the government to restrict photography because of terrorism and because the city has a right to protect its image in the media.

      The reason why this argument is unfortunate is that freedom of expression is a fundamental right, and the government can only restrict fundamental rights when there is a substantial governmental interest and there is no less detrimental alternative means to achieve this super important purpose. Note
    • by Reziac (43301) *
      What I wonder is, since the permit is "free" (that is, the requisite record-keeping and paperwork are paid for by tax dollars) -- why are these permits required in the first place?

      Yes, for commercial movie productions, there is some logic to it, because these productions disrupt traffic etc. But for private parties, the ONLY possible explanation is a desire to track WHO PHOTOGRAPHED WHAT. File under "chilling effects".

  • I can see this if it actually is enacted. 1. I should take me Finepix S2 and run around NYC taking hundreds and hundreds of pictures of buidlings and things, maybe wearing somewhat shady clothing, and then when the NYPD stop me and want to see what I have on my camera, open it up to show that no memory card is installed (Yes, this camera can operate in test mode, basically shooting but not saving.). 2. And then when they arrest me for supposedly taking photographs, I can sue them for holding me without ev
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Reziac (43301) *
      Obviously your "non-saving" camera is transmitting images to your hidden secret base. Into the police van, komrade!!

  • 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.

    Does the law say this?

    Is she aware that the police and the entire judiciary are obliged to enforce the law as written? A police officer would be obliged to arrest severy tourist who didn't have a permit. If it came to court, the "Julianne Cho said it was alright" defence isn't going to be a valid defence. The attitude of the courts is, and
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 30, 2007 @07:22AM (#19698517)
    The motivation for this proposal is the recent cases of people being arrested for filming the police. There is a serious danger that abusive officers of the Law will be caught on camera, and the best way of stopping this, is to have an excuse to confiscate the media for being potentially "unlicensed".

    This was implemented very successfully in Soviet times. The excuse was "National Security", but, of course, no secrets will be revealed by taking a photograph of a random government building (and anyone with enough skill to cause trouble there will conceal his camera anyway). In fact, what was important was to hide the truth about what goes on, and you do that by only licensing people who reveal your version of the truth.

    So much curtailing of liberty in the past 6 years, any thoughts I had that I might be paranoid about my government are now out of the window. It's obvious what's happening - and because the population is more educated and aware than 50 years ago, and because this time round it's going to be done peacefully, but with sufficient technology to make insurrection impossible, it'll just take a little longer to bring it about.
  • by kaleco (801384) <greig.marshall2@ ... m ['t.c' in gap]> on Saturday June 30, 2007 @07:23AM (#19698519)
    I can definitely see the danger in overzealous enforcement of this law, and as someone has already mentioned, there's a precedent for law enforcement to use any reason to curb photographic rights. If the law is properly limited, however, it could limit the nuisance caused by groups using tripods which can occupy busy public spaces for long periods of time. I can understand the motivation behind this law, even if it is a mere pretext to banning public photography in the long term.
  • by edwardpickman (965122) on Saturday June 30, 2007 @07:25AM (#19698533)
    Tourists and tour groups avoid New York. Also people should avoid parades and public events if they intend to take pictures. If they would like to restrict taking pictures in public places then there are friendlier cities people can frequent.
    • >>tour groups avoid New York

      As they say in Mid-Town, "From Your Lips to God's Ears"!!!
    • by Deadstick (535032)
      The trouble with the folks in New York is that for a few brief months in 2001/2, people actually LIKED them and it went to their heads.

      rj
  • What is the purpose? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by quentin_quayle (868719) <quentin_quayle&yahoo,com> on Saturday June 30, 2007 @07:45AM (#19698595)
    If it's to stop people blocking the sidewalk, doesn't the city already have adequate laws on that? They wouldn't have to refer to photography either.

    A more plausible explanation is driving a wedge between professional and amateur journalism. With the chilling effect, there will be less recording of police misconduct, for example, and many of the 9.11 videos would not have been made.
  • Next up... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by speaker of the truth (1112181) on Saturday June 30, 2007 @07:53AM (#19698615)
    Next we'll require permits to for free speech in public areas for anyone whose speaking to more then one person for over 30 minutes or five people at the same time for more then 10 minutes. Beggars will be exempt as no-one pays attention to them.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by MollyB (162595) *

      Next we'll require permits to for free speech in public areas [...]

      We already have so-called "free speech zones" -- fenced, policed areas in which nonviolent opposition to the gummint is permitted, generally placed where the object of protest (a person or group) never need confront detractors.

      As an ancient activist who's been tear-gassed numerous times, I am shocked beyond belief that we have let our civil freedoms wither to a mockery of what once was a great country. The 'free speech' zone used to extend from the Atlantic to the Pacific. (yeah, HI & AK, too)

      The post

    • you need a permit to protest... so a permit for free speech isnt too far off.
    • Give it up. The courts have already ruled that reasonable time, place, and manner restrictions are okay. We already allow protesters to block streets - we just require they get permits so that the appropriate safety coordination can be set up.

      This rule is no different and no less reasonable. Nobody's rights are being trampled. A rule that would prevent casual photography would be illegal. This isn't such a rule.

      A little bit of cooperation is required in order to keep society flowing smoothly. People need to
  • Riiiiight... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by killmenow (184444) on Saturday June 30, 2007 @08:06AM (#19698643)

    "While the permitting scheme does not distinguish between commercial and other types of filming, we anticipate that these rules will have minimal, if any, impact on tourists and recreational photographers, including those that use tripods," Ms. Cho said...
    She continued, "...unless, of course, they are dark skinned."

    But Mark W. Muschenheim, a lawyer with the city's law department, which helped draft the rules, said, "There are few instances, if any, where the casual tourist would be affected."
    He went on to say that mostly those speaking some form of Arabic would fall prey to selective enforcement. Upper and middle class white Americans needn't worry.

    The draft rules say the office could take up to 30 days to issue a permit, but Ms. Cho said she expected that most would be issued within 24 hours.
    Because the government is a bastion of efficiency.
  • LA has had these laws for many years. Otherwise you'd have peple filming on public property everywhere.
  • by bhmit1 (2270) on Saturday June 30, 2007 @08:14AM (#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.
  • This is taking things too far. A vague law banning photography without a permit? No real definition of professional vs. amateur?

    Is NYC run by total morons?

    I guess that's one city I can take off the list of places to visit.
  • Bloomberg is a nut (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    The man is a total control freak and a pathetic excuse for a Republican. Glad he's running for president on an independent ticket, since no one will vote for him.
  • by rcastro0 (241450) on Saturday June 30, 2007 @08:22AM (#19698707) Homepage
    I used to say that the difference between my country
    and the United States was that here everything was
    prohibited unless expressely allowed, while in the
    US everything was allowed unless expressely prohibited.

    I guess I will soon have to revise that saying.
  • Anyone and everyone will commit this "crime". Proof: Cellphone cams. Whenever you "loiter" for 30 minutes somewhere with your cellphone in hand, you're effectively breaking the law. Absurd? Yes. But it can be enforced as such.

    Unfortunately, the constitution only protects you against arbitrary arrests. It does not protect you from the creation of laws that enable arbitrary arrests. And that's pretty much the only viable way this law can be used. It does not protect your privacy. Sure, your stalker can't camp
  • by flar2 (938689) on Saturday June 30, 2007 @08:31AM (#19698747)
    I am a photographer whose specialty is urban photography. A precedent like this would kill my favourite hobby, at least in the US. It certainly violates freedom of the press, thought they will argue "just get a permit and you're fine". I would suspect that some undesirable photographers|journalists|artists would be denied permits. Right now in many cities a permit is required for other types of "artistic" activity in the streets or public spaces (ie: busking). But really, photography? It doesn't hurt anyone. You can look at Google maps or Microsoft Live and get photos of streets. There are security cameras almost everywhere. Why can't joe photographer do it?
  • by QuatermassX (808146) on Saturday June 30, 2007 @09:13AM (#19698923) Homepage

    As has already been mentioned, the purpose of these laws is to generate revenue for the city and keep the sidewalk / pavement clear. The article mentions that two or more people who linger in a spot more than 30 minutes are subject to the new rules.

    That doesn't sound terribly onerous - I recently took hundreds of photos in New York City [flickr.com] and never once had a problem. I toted around an old Yashicamat 124G [camerapedia.org] as well as a Hexar AF [cameraquest.com]. Every so often someone would strike up a conversation about that "cool old camera", but I photographed traffic cops, people in the street, quietly inside shops, throughout museums without a fuss. The cameras are both fairly low-key and quiet.

    I reckon if both my girlfriend and myself had lingered outside for more than 30 minutes and I was typically snapping photographs of strangers, THEN I would be in violation - but I think she'd smack me upside the head before the 30-minute mark would pass.

    Now the issue about unflattering photographs of city police - that sounds more like something that requires clarification. It should never be illegal to expose abuse of power or malfeasance. And citizen journalism has provided vivid pictures of breaking news before the big news organisations can scramble their photographers.

    There are rumblings of similar laws been enacted in Britain ... which always strikes me as a wicked irony when you consider the vast amount of CCTV cameras there are.

    • by Reziac (43301) *
      "The article mentions that two or more people who linger in a spot more than 30 minutes are subject to the new rules."

      How does this not violate our Constitutionally protected right to freedom of assembly??

    • I think the key, though, is that groups of five or more people have only 10 minutes. The proposed law, as written, does not even require that pictures are being actively taken, only that the group is visibly in possession of one or more cameras. So here you have a situation where tour groups would undoubtedly require permits with the law as written, despite that being "unintended", which I think is debatable. It is clear they made no effort to ensure this does not apply to amateur photographers and touri
  • This proposal only applies to situations where cameras are in use for more than a half hour. This means that nearly all situations people have brought up as potential conflicts are unrelated to this proposal.

    Anyone who has spent much time trying to actually live or do business in NYC knows that sidewalks are often blocked either partially or fully for photography sessions. Most often this is done by advertising agencies in order to be use NYC and its crowds as a backdrop. Essentially they are making us

    • by Reziac (43301) *
      But commercial photography has required a permit for a long time, precisely for the reasons you say -- their activities disrupt traffic (foot and motor). Requiring a permit in this case is reasonable since it also informs emergency services that today is NOT a good day to rely on Avenue X for your best route to Location Y.

      However, this has nothing to do with photography by individuals, even those armed with a tripod -- that won't take up any more space or cause any more disruption than would two people stan
  • Yeah, and Jaywalking is illegal, too. Just another law on the books that will be ignored hundreds of thousands of times a day in New York.
  • I can understand if the setup and photographing interferes for normal activity, but how are they going to police it? I mean NYC is a city to take pictures of as a tourist....or terrorist...but there is Google.
  • 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
  • it's routine in other third world countries like Namibia, the Sudan, and Equatorial Guinea. Otherwise, how will the secret police be able to coordinate surveillance?

    Habeas Corpus has been reduced to something we have at the whim of the commander in the United States so we are effectively a third-world government. It is hardly surprising to see other third world mechanisms of control that have survived the test of time proposed here as well.
     
  • by eck011219 (851729) on Saturday June 30, 2007 @11:04AM (#19699497)
    So I can't set up a tripod and take a long-exposure shot at night, but Google's CreepyTruck can drive around and take pictures for Google Street View? They're not in any one spot for more than a few seconds. Lordy.

    Here in Chicago, we have a park right downtown called Millennium Park [wikipedia.org]. It was completed, ironically enough, in 2004. In it is something most Chicagoans call "The Bean" -- it's actually called Cloud Gate [wikipedia.org], and it's a big reflective kidney-bean-shaped thing that reflects everything around it. The piece was underwritten by some big corporation (Ameritech, maybe?). In the past couple of years, the artist has gotten all pissy about people taking pictures of it, because it's a copyrighted work. The sponsor got involved, leaned on the city, and now the police will often stop people from taking pictures of it without written permission from the artist. (As you might imagine, this also spawned a huge number of posted photographs of it all over the Web.)

    In other words, they can plant a bigass bean in the middle of my city, but if I take a picture of it, I'm in the wrong. And while I stand there griping about it, Google can drive by and take my picture. My personal feeling is that the architects of the buildings surrounding the bean should go after the artist for reflecting images of their buildings without written permission. But that just increases the number of people being chowderheads, I suppose.
  • by Roblimo (357) Works for SourceForge on Saturday June 30, 2007 @11:20AM (#19699589) Homepage Journal
    My primary video camera is a Sony A1U, usually mounted on a Manfrotto tripod with fluid head. This is obviously "professional" gear. If I whip that sucker out, with or without tripod, nearby cops in big cities tend to freak.

    If I haul out my little Panasonic "grandpa and the grandkids" handheld camcorder, nobody ever says a word to me.

    My next cam purchase will probably be a Canon HV20 -- it does HD and gives pretty good quality in any rational amount of light, but is small enough not to alarm The Nosies. The only problem is going to be audio.... even a shortie shotgun mic suddenly makes a cam look "professional" enough to cause suspicion.

    I recently taped some short takes at JFK airport in NYC -- not of security or anything -- and some Delta employees totally freaked out and called airport security, who told me not to take shots of security personnel but otherwise left me alone.

    Luckily, I don't live in NYC, but in Bradenton, Florida. Here and in nearby Sarasota I *routinely* tape commercial video on the streets and beaches, often with a tripod and boom mic, and nearly as often with 3 - 5 people in cast/crew, and nobody bothers me at all. Cops just ask, "Oh what are you filming?" out of ordinary curiosity, then maybe stand around to watch if they're not busy.

    Yeah, you're supposed to have a permit for most "professional film activity" here, but I've never gotten one, and I've never been hassled about permitting. Around here, even small-time professional video production is rare enough that people want to watch you do it, not keep you *from* doing it.

    - Robin
  • Seriously, whats the difference between taking a photograph and making a detailed illustration? I am fully capable of either, and marginally better at illustration. Or what of a painter with a tripod easel?

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