NYC May Require You To Obtain Permit To Shoot Vacation Movies?

The Mayor’s Office of Film, Theater and Broadcasting is considering new rules that would require any two or more people who plan to shoot for more than 30 minutes in a public location to obtain a permit and $1 million in insurance.

The rules would cover any public place in the city of New York, including sidewalks. A spokesperson from the mayors office said the rules are not intended to apply to families and tourists, but who is to say who is a family and who is a tourist?

From the New York Times:

“These rules will apply to a huge range of casual photography and filming, including tourists taking snapshots and people making short videos for YouTube,” said Christopher Dunn, the group’s [New York Civil Liberties Union ] associate legal director.

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. In a letter sent to the film office this week, Mr. Dunn said the proposed rules would potentially apply to tourists in places like Times Square, Rockefeller Center or ground zero, “where people routinely congregate for more than half an hour and photograph or film.”

Under the rules, the people would not have to be actually filming, just holding a camera and talking to each other.

City May Seek Permit and Insurance for Many Kinds of Public Photography [NYT via digg]
(Photo: Meghann Marco)


Edit Your Comment

  1. B says:

    Honestly, nobody wants to see your 30+ minute vacation film.

  2. Greasy Thumb Guzik says:

    And you know damn well, that those five fascists on the Supreme Court would say this is constitutional!

  3. meneye says:

    besides being impossible to enforce, what possible benefit could this have on anyone? (and why is it necessary?) The mayor’s office should focus on something other than the restriction of freedom.

  4. Imhotep says:

    No Doubt! @ Greasy.

    Not to mention, say goodbye to ANY footage that might record a protest or police activity. This is scary s#it people! Why is it the govt. can place cameras all over the cities to identify and track people, yet We the People would be criminals for recording our own point of view? Where’s the outrage to this?? How far is too far??!!

  5. MercuryPDX says:

    I think you’re reading too much into this.

    FTA: “It completely opens the door to discriminatory enforcement of the permit requirements, and that is of enormous concern to us because the people who are going to get pointed out are the people who have dark skin or who are shooting in certain locations.”

    I think they are reading WAY WAY too much into this.

    The film office does not have an “enforcement” division that roams the streets looking for people with cameras to fine. When I was in a college video class, it was explained to us that student/amateur films did not need a permit to shoot in NYC, HOWEVER if your shoot caused a disturbance (ie. noise complaints, screwing up traffic on a street, trespassing onto private property) expect a fine.

  6. demonradio says:

    The majority of people who take tons of movies/photos in NYC are tourists and hipsters. I say bravo. If I see one more group of emaciated hipster girls making fishy faces to their cameras together, I will scream.

  7. royal72 says:

    memo to ny: take that idea and shove it up your ass.

  8. cde says:

    @MercuryPDX: Yes they do. It’s the NYPD who does the enforcement and the permit checking.

  9. mattbrown says:

    yea, this will be enforced… never.

  10. danieldavis says:

    damn civil liberties union. more like anti-liberties union. I think I’ll mail them a 31 minute video of my future ny trip.

  11. Indecision says:

    @MercuryPDX: “I think they are reading WAY WAY too much into this.”

    Do you really, honestly believe this won’t be abused? Can you say in all seriousness that you see no potential for abuse here, and that nobody will abuse it ever?

  12. azntg says:

    I beg to differ, but the NYPD has a tendency to selectively enforce particular rules and laws to brutality. And by that, I mean cracking down on everyone without any reasonable warning whereas just a day ago, they wouldn’t have cared at all. Particularly when the city is in a budget crunch. And this is proven time and time again.

    I was lucky enough to not be a “victim” of that, but I know a few friends who can’t say the same.

    I think this rule is well intentioned, as certainly some moviemakers will opt to use a small two men groups or whatnot to portray certain intimacy in the film’s scenes and who’s to say accidents won’t happen? But, if the rule is as vaguely worded as charged, then I share Mr. Dunn’s skepticism. You can bet your @ss that it will be misused, when the next budget problems roll around

  13. TPK says:

    And if someone steals your camera but it somehow gets recovered in NYC, watch out, they will charge you their fee retroactively! At least that’s what they do with dogs… but worse…


  14. BaysideWrestling says:

    “Honestly, nobody wants to see your 30+ minute vacation film.”

    B, that’s not the problem. The length of the film doesn’t have to be 30 minutes – it’s the PROCESS of filming. If you stay in one general area for 30 minutes or more in the process of taking photographs or shooting film, you’re in violation.

    This definitely sounds like it’s a back-door way for arresting and fining protesters. If you have a camera and you stay at a march more than 29 minutes, then NYC could potentially prosecute you. And don’t think for a second they won’t selectively use this ability.

  15. ThyGuy says:

    Reason #10 for the day not to go to NY state.

  16. TechnoDestructo says:


    What the hell are you talking about? Forget your reading comprehension somewhere?

  17. azntg says:

    If anything, it seems like a representative of the NYCLU shares the same skepticism that some of us has.

  18. mixerfx says:

    It’s amazing the NYC council has come up with something like this. Does’nt it supposed to be the land of freedom?.
    Maybe 9/11 affected them way too much.

  19. MMD says:

    Between this and the Supreme Court decision on the “bong hits 4 jesus” issue (the sign was on a *public sidewalk!!*), I’m really afraid we’re moving toward a police state. I even got yelled at today for taking a single photo in a grocery store.

  20. jwissick says:

    hell, the police state haqs been here for long time….. where you been?

  21. MrFlashport says:

    this is the republican police state America we now live in. I am sure all New Yorkers are now protected from terrorists and lightning now that permits are needed to make movies on the street. So Osama better pay up if you want to fire up the old Handycam…

  22. hop says:

    beside the gestapo type issue, this looks like another moneymaker for nyc…’ll probably put a crimp in the tourist business….

  23. crankymediaguy says:

    “The film office does not have an ‘enforcement’ division that roams the streets looking for people with cameras to fine.”

    I’m sure they don’t, but the NYPD is certainly empowered to arrest people in violation of the law.

    “When I was in a college video class, it was explained to us that student/amateur films did not need a permit to shoot in NYC…”

    Yeah, that was then. This is now.

    May I politely ask what “problem” this law is supposed to fix? I’m from NYC and I’ve never seen the streets clogged with camera crews.

    What it is, is more fascist shit designed to prevent protesters from documenting abuse by police as happened at the last Republican convention.

  24. @MMD: I even got yelled at today for taking a single photo in a grocery store.

    Before I started reading Consumerist, I would probably think, “Why the hell would someone be taking a photo in a grocery store?”

    Now I take my digital camera everywhere, just in case I catch something hinky going on.

    Is this evolution or consumerism?

  25. RebekahSue says:

    Will the police be timing me when I’m taking pictures to make sure I stay under 29 minutes? (I usually only shoot a minute or two, but how will enforcers KNOW that?)

    I blogged this, because I’m not sure how it will affect people like me, who like to take random pictures or pictures to be “artsy,” and my friends who are professional photographers and who are amateur photographers who spend more time at it than I am.

    I join @loquaciousmusic:

    Before I started reading Consumerist, I would probably think, “Why the hell would someone be taking a photo in a grocery store?”

    Now I take my digital camera everywhere… I need to post local farm pictures that I took last weekend, including the outhouse with the American flag (the company’s advertising, not the farm’s).

  26. ceejceej says:

    ::sigh:: Yet another way to make NYC weddings even MORE expensive…

  27. royal72 says:

    welcome, united slaves of america.

  28. bomani2k says:

    I personally think this is definitely directed at protesters and probably most specifically 911 truthers and the like.

    Of course protesters could just “pass” the camera but if you have had ANY experience with the NYPD it’s more likely they will pass the baton.

    I bet if you were to take the pulse of the “body” of America…that freedom beat is very faint.

  29. Brazell says:

    Never going to be passed, never going to be enforced.