Photography Socialism in New York

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The NYT reports that

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.

Julianne Cho, assistant commissioner of the film office, said the rules were not intended to apply to families on vacation or amateur filmmakers or photographers.

What if you have non-commercial photographers using medium or large format cameras? These things require several minutes of setup time. Also, more advanced photographers set up their tripods and wait for the light and other compositional elements to be just right. Finally, for a large format setup it’s not unusual to have someone help you. So now you might have two or three amateurs using pro equipment. Now what?The case could be made that sidewalks and other areas are not made for photography and people should not be allowed to camp there. But then what if there’s no one around? The city government would still want to regulate these photographers and filmmakers.

The article goes on to say explain that a “single site” is “any area within 100 feet of where filming begins. Under the rules, the two or more people would not actually have to be filming, but could simply be holding an ordinary camera and talking to each other.”

“While the permitting scheme does not distinguish between commercial and other types of filming, we anticipate that these rules will have minimal, if any, impact on tourists and recreational photographers, including those that use tripods,” Ms. Cho said in an e-mail response to questions.

So, Ms. Cho, can I have my wife help me for a complex photo setup? What if I ask a friend to be a model? $1 million in liability insurance? Give me a break.

Once again, this is the problem with public property. The privatization of sidewalks and government land would end unjust and arbitrary rules.

7:58 am on June 29, 2007
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