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in Filmmaking
on Jul 20, 2007

The New York Mayor’s Office of Film and Television provides such great support for independent filmmakers that its weird to have to write a post slamming one of their new initiatives. If you haven’t heard about their new proposed rules requiring insurance and permits for an expanded group of filmmakers, however, take note.

Ray Rivera wrote about the rules on June 29 in the New York Times:

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.

A PDF of the proposed changes can be downloaded here.

The New York Civil Liberties Union’s responsed can be read here.

An excerpt:

“This requirement makes no sense, violates the First Amendment right to photograph in public places, and opens the door to selective and discriminatory enforcement,” said NYCLU Executive Director Donna Lieberman.

“We see absolutely no reason why a family visiting Ground Zero or standing in line outside the Empire State Building for half an hour should be required to obtain a permit from New York City to snap casual photographs or to use a camcorder,” said NYCLU Associate Legal Director Christopher Dunn, who submitted the NYCLU’s comments.

As Anthony Kaufman has reported in his blog, a group of filmmakers including Jem Cohen, Astra Taylor, Beka Economopoulos, Brandon Jourdan, Laura Hanna, and Julie Talen are helping to organize a response. They will be participating in a “Rally for the First Amendment” scheduled for 6:30 p.m. on July 27 at Union Square in Manhattan. All are welcome.

Citizens have until August 3 to register their opinions on these proposed changes. To make a statement, click on this online response form.

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