August 04, 2007


NYC has proposed new rules that would require permits and insurance for a wide
range of casual and amateur photography and filmmaking. Find out what you can
do at





NYC Might Demand Permits for Filming August 01, 2007 6:35 AM EST

NEW YORK - Civil liberties advocates are gearing up for a potential court fight
over proposed rules that would force filmmakers and photographers to get permits
and $1 million insurance policies to film or take pictures in one of the world's
most photographed cities.

New regulations drafted by the Mayor's Office of Film, Theatre and Broadcasting
would require a permit for any type of filming or photography that involved "an
interaction among two or more people at a single site for 30 or more minutes."

Permits would also be required for five or more people using a tripod for more
than 10 minutes.

The rules would be nothing new for professional crews that film regularly in the
city; they have long been required to get a permit and insurance to block off
streets and sidewalks.

But critics say the proposed rules would affect a new class of shooters: fashion
and wedding photographers, independent journalists doing street interviews, and
amateurs making videos to post online.

The New York Civil Liberties Union is prepared to take action against the
regulations in court if they're enacted without revision, said one of the
organization's lawyers, Christopher Dunn.

"There is no way that they should be requiring permits for people using handheld
cameras," Dunn said. "It would give the police license to stop virtually anyone,
and that opens the door to harassment."

Documentary filmmaker Jennifer Livingston called the proposal "draconian," and a
betrayal of the city's long history of nurturing budding talent.

"Think of that young artist who is going to be hurried along by some cop, who
has no choice but to follow regulations," she said. "I would hate to see film
students thinking that any time they make an image, it has to be sanctioned by
the government."

City officials insist the rules aren't an attempt to quash free speech.

People unable to afford liability insurance, which could cost between $500 and
$1,000 for even the smallest of photo shoots, could apply to the city for a

Journalists with a press pass issued by the police department would be exempt.
So would anyone using handheld equipment to film a parade, rally or political

Julianne Cho, associate commissioner of the film office, said the city's only
intention was to help filmmakers get safe access to great locations, while
ensuring that production didn't obstruct traffic or interfere with New Yorkers'

The city is accepting public comment on the proposed rules until Friday and
could still make changes.

Since the Sept. 11 attacks, photographers of all types have increasingly
complained about harassment.

D. Bruce Yolton, an amateur nature photographer, said he was run off by a police
officer last spring when he tried to take pictures of a hawk nesting on the
Triborough Bridge.

Things will only get worse under the new rules, he said. He wondered whether the
regulations would result in officers cracking down on groups of amateur bird
watchers gathering to stake out wildlife.

"There is no way for me to apply for a permit," he said. "For one thing, I never
know where the bird is going to be."

The film office drafted the proposed rules earlier this year as a result of a
lawsuit involving an independent filmmaker detained for using a handheld video
camera in midtown Manhattan.

Rakesh Sharma, the Indian director of the award-winning 2003 documentary "Final
Solution," was told he needed a permit to record images of the MetLife building
near Grand Central Terminal, even if he had no crew and no equipment besides his

The New York Civil Liberties Union sued, arguing, in part, that the city had
never properly enacted regulations governing film permits. The case was settled
and the film office agreed to formalize its rules.

Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not
be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

terrorists will take pictures of our hawk nests so they can fly the baby hawks into office buildings with explosives

12:26 AM  

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