Bloomberg Thinks You Should Pay to Photograph New York

This post, written by Lindsay Beyerstein, originally appeared on Majikthise

The Bloomberg administration is quietly pushing new regulations that would ban certain kinds of photography in New York City without a permit and $1 million in liability insurance:
The new rules, which were proposed 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 public place for more than 30 minutes to get a city permit and $1 million in liability 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 permits would be free.
City officials said they would decide after next Friday whether to adopt the rules as they are, amend them or draft new rules and reopen the public review process. [NYT]
Ironically, Bloomberg is just fine with unlicensed cameras when they are trained on citizens in the name of security and fighting petty crime.

Photography is an established form of free speech. We shouldn't have to get permission or take out a million-dollar insurance policy in order to exercise our First Amendment rights.

It seems clear that this measure is designed discourage small-time filmmakers from shooting in the city. Cynics would speculate that the Mayor's Office of Film, Theater, and Television wants to create a monopoly for the big commercial filmmakers who generate revenue for the city.

The rules apply to still photographers as well. There are no exceptions for amateurs. It's not clear whether this ban will apply to journalists as well--nothing I've read suggests otherwise. Are they really saying that every camera crew in the city has to get a permit before it shows up to cover a story?

The New York Civil Liberties Association has pledged to sue the city if these unconstitutional restrictions become law.

Picture New York is a newly-formed advocacy group fighting the proposed restrictions. You can sign their e-petition here.
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