Did Microsoft's Vista Circus Promo Break NYC Law?

Yesterday’s fanciful Windows Vista promotion featured thirteen unitard clad abseilers racing down the Terminal Building, waving gaily colored flags to form the Vista logo. It may also have been completely illegal according to NYC Admin Code.

10-114 Street shows. a. It shall be unlawful to give any exhibition of climbing or scaling on the front or exterior of any house or building.

c. Violations. Any person who shall violate any provision of this section, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by a fine of not more than twenty-five dollars, or imprisonment for thirty days, or both.

To be fair, it was really more an exhibition of Vista’s ability to use at least four colors at a time, rather than one of climbing and scaling.

Maybe Microsoft just paid the twenty-five dollars and put an intern in jail upfront. — BEN POPKEN

New York City Administrative Code Section 10-114 Street shows [onecle] (Thanks to David!)

Comments

Edit Your Comment

  1. weave says:

    Eight? I see 13 just in this camera shot. How was that figure calculated? Don’t tell me you already installed Vista Ben….

  2. inseptiv says:

    I’m gonna be kookoo and say maybe, just maybe, Microsoft got a permit.

    But, incidentally, there were only 6 official abseilers hired for the gig.

    Rumor has it that two giddy Warner Bros. staffers fashioned their own orange unitards from “Music and Lyrics” poster scraps (of Hugh Grant’s face) just to join in the fray on Broadway, and they made it past security by posing as Michael Wolf’s office clean-up crew. Zing!

  3. Angiol says:

    There are 8 in the picture in the original article; maybe Ben was just looking at that one.

  4. JuliusJefferson says:

    Is it just me, or does someone else see the disparity between $25 or a month in prison?

  5. Ben Popken says:

    Inspetiv, that’s what we thought. Here’s what our tipster had to say to that suggestion:

    You can’t get a permit to do something illegal. In fact, wanting to do something illegal is a reason to deny a permit.

    I have a nice 4 page letter from the City law department from when I was hired to do this event for another client at another location. They cite many reasons for denying the permit (some of which would be applicable in MS’s case), and the main one is the administrative code….

  6. faust1200 says:

    Yeesh who cares about this? Microsoft breaks much sexier laws than this. This is like nabbing Hitler for j-walking.

  7. brilliantmistake says:

    Well, they only got Al Capone for tax evasion. Take what you can get.

  8. TVarmy says:

    @JuliusJefferson

    I saw that, too. Imagine telling your cell mate the heinous crime that got you behind bars. I suspect this is a really old law back when $25 was a somewhat bigger deal. Or maybe they want to offer a serious punishment for crazy people who try to scale skyscrapers, risking their lives and costing taxpayers money when the fire department tries to save them, and so on.

  9. Antediluvian says:

    Like others have said, it’s quite possible they got a special permit. In my town, it’s illegal to build an ice skating rink. But you can do it with a permit. I’m not intimate w/ NYC code, so it’s possible it’s legit under another section and was issued a permit.

  10. informer says:

    Most likely, Microsoft just doesn’t give a shit about the law. They did the same sort of thing in 2002 when they plastered 16,000 MSN butterfly stickers all over NYC. Sure, they might end up paying a fine (like they care), but it gets them a ton of free press. Hell, the fact that it is illegal probably gets them even more attention.

  11. Johnie says:

    Meh! If the penalty is $25, the cost/benefit of breaking the law is in their favor. This is like the law in NYC that you can’t put advertising on construction scaffolding, but people still do it anyways because the amount of money that the building makes from advertising is greater than the $500 fine.

  12. SexCpotatoes says:

    They weren’t climbing or scaling were they? just descending…

  13. sailor says:

    Forget the marketing tomfoolery to get this behemoth off the ground.

    Far more annoying is the way the media rolled over for this rollout, from Meredith Viera’s puffball interview with Gates on the Today show to David Pogue’s bend-over on the the NewsHour with Jim Lehrer.

    The former produced a telling revelation about Gates’ favorite features, security (already somewhat compromised at beta stages, but subsequently “fixed”) and the parental control feature that lets him mandate when his kids can turn their computers on and when they must turn them off.

    And Pogue’s comments about the “smoother, sexier” Windows Vista while acknowledging with a rueful laugh that yes, most of the new lifestyle features had been part of Mac OS X for years but as Steve Ballmer said, “You get (ie. steal) good ideas wherever you can find them.

    But Steve Jobs must accept his share of the blame. If he had gotten past his massive ego and licensed the Mac OS years ago, we wouldn’t be putting up with these idiot stunts trying to show how “creative” Microsoft is.