John has written before about cities cracking down on public photography since 9/11, but New York is about to make it official. Soon you’ll need a license and insurance to take pictures and record video in the city. The city promises that non-professionals and tourists will not be harmed, but refuse to specify that in the law.

New York Times – June 29, 29007:

Some tourists, amateur photographers, even would-be filmmakers hoping to make it big on YouTube could soon be forced to obtain a city permit and $1 million in liability insurance before taking pictures or filming on city property, including sidewalks.

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.

the New York Civil Liberties Union… also warns that the rules set the stage for selective and perhaps discriminatory enforcement by police.

“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 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.



  1. Mark T. says:

    “The city promises that non-professionals and tourists will be harmed”

    Um, that’s a typo, right?

    Come to New York, pay excessive hotel taxes, take some pictures, then get a citation. What a wonderful tourist spot!

  2. bobbo says:

    New Category for Dvorak: The Coming Police State

    This should be unconstitutional. Maybe it will be if the SCOTUS thinks corporations can sell more cameras? —- No, corporations better off to keep their violations of law a secret. Either way, I’m sure their analysis will focus on what benefits corporations the most.

  3. Greg E. says:

    I guess they may be sick of being “Caught On Tape.”

  4. Michael says:

    It´s the end of the Japanese tourism in NY!

  5. Vince says:

    While this will keep us safe from all the Terrorists who have trained in professional photography and moviemaking, what about all the Terrorists armed with snapshot cameras?

  6. hhopper says:

    This is absolutely asinine. More stupid shit to waste the police time on.

  7. bobbo says:

    Anybody have that poster with the caption:

    “Your Problem is Obvious”

    and the picture is of a guy with his head up his ass?

    Its a good one. I think of it whenever certain GOUSA policy positions are the subject.

    So, with open borders, poisonous food supplies from China, corporations selling critical defense technology to China and so forth, our Government (NYC counts!) wants to chase down tourists and skateboarders. Reminds me of Boston going HUA (Head Up Ass) over those electronic posters. We’d all be doomed if the Muslims weren’t even more HUA’d

  8. Robert B says:

    Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.
    Benjamin Franklin, Historical Review of Pennsylvania, 1759
    US author, diplomat, inventor, physicist, politician, & printer (1706 – 1790)
    Ben said it very clearly!

    Now the terrorist are winning, be having our own government doing the work for them.

  9. Misanthropic Scott says:

    OK, not everything New York does is perfect. This is flat out psychotic. I can’t wait for the first time someone tries to stop me from photographing birds with my 400mm lens.

    As long as it doesn’t take effect until June 29,29007 though, I’m OK with it.

  10. NappyHeadedHo says:

    Oh man, this will really fuck up the Asian visitors. And can’t you see the GEICO cave man promoting photography insurance?

  11. Gerry O'Brien says:

    Anyone who wishes to express opposition to this First Amendment-chilling rule can contact Mayor Bloomberg’s office:

    Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg
    City Hall
    New York, NY 10007

    PHONE 311 (or 212-NEW-YORK outside NYC)

    FAX (212) 788-8123

    E-MAIL: http://www.nyc.gov/html/mail/html/mayor.html

  12. Stars & Bars says:

    Such a law would give police the power to selectively enforce unconstitutional (4th amendment) measures to restrict freedom. Americans will wake up one morning and realize they are living in a police state and wonder how it happened.

    The police goons don’t want their behavior challenged.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0DXgDHmRQOI
    The goon in this video is on administrative leave pending an investigation. He should be charges with assault and fired.

    Here is a website devoted to confrontations between police and photographers.

    http://www.freedomtophotograph.com/

  13. MikeN says:

    Mike Bloomberg strikes again…

    There is just something wrong with that guy. He went out and told everyone no smoking, then his jihad against trans-fats.

  14. Milo says:

    Um what about security cameras? There’s one in every ATM and many , many more. I can’t see how they could be excluded from this. I think NYC could be class actioned back to the stone age over this!

    Maybe they’re just trying to stop the Surveillance Camera Players?

    http://tinyurl.com/3dspdo

  15. Alex Killby says:

    This will never go through, if it does, I really don’t think it means anything. Professionals will purchase a license, and non-professionals “won’t be harmed” big woop. This will make nothing happen.

  16. Mark T. says:

    Milo, this is about the Man hassling the citizens. I am sure businesses with security cams will be exempt.

    Sounds like a revenue generating photography tax to me.

    I find the insurance requirement suspicious. I wouldn’t doubt that insurance companies lobbied for this. Either way, lawyers are surely in the mix.

  17. BubbaRay says:

    [somewhat off topic]
    #9, Scott, “I can’t wait for the first time someone tries to stop me from photographing birds with my 400mm lens.”

    Have you ever looked at these cool scopes? Just trying to help, great optics from a great company.

    http://tinyurl.com/32q4at
    http://tinyurl.com/265lsc

  18. noname says:

    With the Zillions of Camera Phones and recorders, who is to stop people taking pictures.

    Ok, if some BOZO is meandering N.Y. with a big bunking camcorder, I am sure N.Y. finest is there ready for some friendly baton, mace or tazer action.

    I am sure half brained Mohammed is using a itsy bitsy spy camera.

    This is brain dead “MAKE ME FEEL GOOD AND SAFE” legislation to win the too abundant lame touchy feebly and insecure people vote; it will only do, itsy bitsy good to protect us.

  19. Jeremy says:

    Rider Banned Over Birth-Control Advice
    http://www.ksl.com/?sid=1411742&nid=270

  20. RBG says:

    This kind of thing is becoming more prevalent in big cities. I’m quite amazed that NY didn’t already have such a rule. They do have one like that in Vancouver, Canada.

    They’re trying to keep the street free from pedestrian confrontation and, more importantly, deal with the situation where an innocent pedestrian trips over carelessly laid out equipment. Who pays in such a situation?

    This is obviously aimed at professionals. The $1million insurance is the hint there. No tourist, etc will have that.

    But usually it’s a naked cash grab and an erosion of rights. Free speech is free as long as you pay all the user fees.

    Now tell me. What student filmmaker or hobbiest is going to have $1M insurance? Filmmakers often don’t have money for their next meal.

    What effect will this have on news and documentary filmmakers?

    Most corporate video companies have annual insurance but not all of them. Some have project-by project insurance. So if you need a city crowd shot, you’re supposed to do all the paperwork and get $1M issurance for the shot? What if it is a series of shots that you can’t predict, like an impromtu protest?

    Guerrilla filmmakers will pay the ruling no heed.

    Ultimately the ruling will be ignored and the shots taken by bending the rules to the max. ie: shooting for less than 10 minutes at a time; going hand-held, etc. Creating a lot more havoc in the process.

    RBG

  21. Ben Waymark says:

    About bloody time they did something. I’ve got it on good authority that TERRORISTS LOVING LIBERALS often use cameras for their ‘propaganda’ films. Could you imagine what would if people like Michael Moore were allowed to film randomly anywhere in America? If we let LIBERALS run around with cameras filming everything soon we will have a the North Koreans nuking all the stores that sell iPhones and Saddam’s ghost sitting in a hot tub in the Whitehouse smoking a hooka pipe while Al-Queda fly airplanes into nuclear power plants.

    Oh course, having gone back and read the article, I must confess that it does make some sense to have professional photographers using public property to have some sort of insurance, but I’d a thought that anyone conducting any business/work or whatever in public would need it anyway….

  22. Ben Waymark says:

    Why is it no matter how many times I proof read my posts I always end up leaving a word out…. is there anyway we can edit our posts on here?

  23. Jerk-Face says:

    19. “Rider Banned Over Birth-Control Advice”

    Makes sense to me. We have a right to free speech. But no one has a duty to actually listen. And if you won’t shut up despite being asked to shut up, an arrest is a good thing.

  24. Jerk-Face says:

    22. “is there anyway we can edit our posts on here?”

    Yep, immediately before clicking “Say It” you have plenty of time to read and edit your posts.

  25. bwaymark says:

    24: Ah… thanks Jerk-Face…. but I was kinda thinking after you press ‘Say It’….. some some strange reason (I blame the fairies) I never seem to notice the omitted words until after I press that magic button….

  26. bobbo says:

    25—When you edit, look for those words you left out, but more importantly,

    look for those paragraphs you leave in.

  27. mark says:

    I can now officially say “Fuck New York City” I wont be visiting your dictatorship now Mr. Bloomberg. Good luck with your presidential aspirations, asshole. More cities to follw I fear.

  28. bwaymark says:

    26: Good advice Bobbo….. I may well make that my moto in life…. thanks!

  29. steve B says:

    It is obvious Bloomberg has requested ideas from his underlings how to increase revenues for the city since his toll idea for automobiles entering the city 59th street and below failed. It appears Bloomberg is desperate with such a stupid idea as to require photography licenses and force fines on tourists and amateur photographers. If he wants to charge professional photographers and professional movie makers a fee plus insurance to take up a space where citizens and businesses are inconvenienced for an hour or more I can see that but to include private citizens and tourists I think that is illogical, impractical and outrageous! Steve B ( NYC)

  30. Stevie says:

    License on photographies? Why do they need that? What is wrong if I will film some cool stuff in New York and put in youtube? This ban on video stuff looks like a really crazy and strange thing. But I personally think that they will not be able to look after all people who will be taing photographies in New York. It is a nonsense. So keep taking nice photos in N.Y and be calm!