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Picture NY Without Pictures of NY

A new and highly restrictive policy on public photography in NYC threatens freedom of expression.

Posted Jul 29, 2007

Picture New York

In just a few days, the city of New York will attempt to pass legislation that states:

"permits would be needed for a group of two or more people who want to use a camera in a single public location for more than a half hour as well as any group of five or more people who would be using a tripod for more than ten minutes."
(via The Gothamist)

In addition, each shoot will require proof of $1 million in liability insurance.

The city most prized for creative expression and culture is proposing laws that many fear will target its base: the students and amateurs who flock to NYC as a mecca for freedom. This new law will mean that groups of students will be deterred from exploring. Time-lapse photography (which requires a tripod) will be illegal for amateurs. Street photography by nature will be a changed and hollow endeavor. At the same time, government plans are in place to set up thousands of security cameras around NYC - they can watch us, but we can't watch them?

Picture New York

Enter Picture New York, a coalition of working artists, filmmakers, and photographers who’ve joined forces to fight the proposed legislation. They have constructed an online petition that will be presented to the NYC mayor's office prior to the August 3rd deadline for public comment. In the meantime they're mobilizing a campaign with public events, films and photography that stress the importance of free speech and expression.

To place this in context, here is the current NYC policy for filming in a public area. Fill out the form, print it, sign it and fax it in prior to 2pm the day before you shoot. Pretty easy.

Now, consider the rules already in place for a single person to use a tripod on public land in Chicago (PDF warning):

Our government is oppressing the very freedom of documentation and expression on which an educated, observant and patriotic nation is founded. It's disappointing that there are cities already mired in such a bureaucratic mess.

I encourage anyone who values civil liberties and the freedom of public expression to act now - join the protest and remind your government that you have the right to document and explore the world around you.