A plea to readers


I’ve never written a post like this before, but the issue is too important to ignore. If you are a New Yorker, ever plan to visit New York or just care about freedom of speech and expression, this is a plea for your help. 

A controversial new city proposal would require formal permits for a wide range of casual photography and would affect visitors and residents alike.

“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.”
— New York Times, June 29, 2007

It seems absurd, doesn’t it, that a city like this would crack down on people taking photos in public places, but the threat of that happening is very real — and implemention of the rules imminent — unless we make our voices heard.

Following a request from the NYCLU, New York City has agreed to reopen the period for members of the public to submit comments about this proposal. The City will accept comments until Friday August 3.

Comments should be sent as soon as possible to the following person:
    Julianne Cho
    Assistant Commissioner
    Mayor’s Office of Film, Theatre & Broadcasting
    1697 Broadway
    New York, N.Y. 10019

An ad hoc coalition of working artists, filmmakers, and photographers have joined together to fight the proposed rules. Calling themselves Picture New York, they have launched a blog and an online petition which will be closed on Friday, August 3.

If you believe, as I do, that we should remain free to take photos and shoot videos on the streets of New York City, please let officials know before it is too late. They will stop accepting comments in only two days.

If you live outside the city, or even outside the U.S., you might hesitate to contact the Mayor’s Office of Film, Theatre & Broadcasting.

You may think that it wouldn’t be appropriate for you to get involved in what seems like a local fight, but the city needs to hear from as many people as possible, no matter where they live. Please help us keep New York accessible and open to all photographers.


Award-winning newscaster and commentator Keith Olbermann has named Julianne Cho Worst Person in the World for July 31, 2007.


“Responding to an outcry that included a passionate Internet campaign and a satiric rap video, city officials yesterday backed off proposed new rules that could have forced tourists taking snapshots in Times Square and filmmakers capturing that only-in-New-York street scene to obtain permits and $1 million in liability insurance.

“In announcing the move, officials at the Mayor’s Office of Film, Theater and Broadcasting said they would redraft the rules, intended to apply to commercial film and photography productions, to address complaints that they could be too broadly applied. They will then release the revised rules for public comment.

“It appears that the mayor’s office on film has come to their senses,” said Eileen Clancy, a member of a group formed to protest the rules. “Clearly, they did not anticipate the way in which the rules were likely to affect so many different groups of people.””

For the rest of this New York Times article, click here.


Picture New York blog
Picture New York petition
New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU)
Mayor’s Office of Film, Theatre & Broadcasting
Text of Proposed rule (Amendment to Title 43) [pdf]
NY Times: Artists Organize to Fight Camera Permit Proposal
NY Times: City May Seek Permit and Insurance for Many Kinds of Public Photography
Sewell Chan: A Shout Out to the M.O.F.T.B.
Olde English: Free NYC Rap video
Keith Olbermann
NY Times: After Protests, City Agrees to Rewrite Proposed Rules

14 Responses to A plea to readers

  1. New York City Considers Un-American Permit Plan

    New York City is one of the most filmed and photographed cities in the world. That may change soon, however, as the New York City Mayor’s Office of Film, Theatre and Broadcasting has drafted plans that would require a permit and $1 million insu…


  2. photowannabe says:

    So, are they going to have camera patrols through out the city with stopwatches to make sure you don’t overstep your time limits?
    Scary but its another way for the City to make more money. I will put my 2 cents worth in too.


  3. Olivier says:

    Je trouve cela completement delirant, mais il faut savoir qu’il existe des regles a l’identique à Paris, mais elles ne sont pas respectes et non sanctionnées. Mais ils existent de plus en plus d’endroits, de monuments, de musées, où on interdit les photos, je trouve cela delirant et stupide. En esperant que cette loi ne passe pas.

    I find that completely delirious, but it should be known that there are rules has the identical one in Paris, but they are not respect and not sanctioned. But they exist more and more of places, monuments, of museums, where the photographs are prohibited, I find that delirious and stupid. By hoping that this law does not pass.


  4. Jack says:

    Quel intérêt aurait-on d’aller dans une ville, ou dans un pays touristique, si on ne peut pas faire de photo, celà semble délirant – j’aimerais en connaître les raisons, le 11 septembre, des gens à demi-nus ont été filmé, c’était une exception, mais je puis assurer que celà n’a pas plu a tout le monde – Mais maintenant je me dis pourquoi aller à NEW YORK si je ne suis pas autorisé à filmer, c’est débile. – J’espère que cette loi d’un illuminé ne passera pas.


  5. Curly says:

    Thanks for visiting my photoblog. I am a BIG believer in freedoms of speech, expression, and association. I have emailed my thoughts to Juliann Cho and wish you success with your efforts to defeat this insidious piece of petty bureaucracy.


  6. VEGA says:

    C’est étrange, d’où vient ce projet de loi? Il est absurde de ne pouvoir filmer les monuments, les lieux de promenade, les parcs, les roseraies, tout ce qu’une pays, une ville peut avoir d’agréable à regarder, hormis la vie privée.

    What’is that project of law? It’s an absurdity to get unfree the fact of films monuments, walking ways, parks, roses, all things giving town’s charms in a city, except private life.


  7. Annie says:

    What in the world could be the rationale?

    Oh, I see, it’s money.

    I saw Olberman’s comments about this and was reassured to also hear that the whole idea is unconstitutional and probably wouldn’t last longer than a moment or two. But, you know it’s citizens like you and Olberman who make sure it’s only a moment or two – or less.


  8. steve buser says:

    Seems pretty unconstitutional to me. I shouldn’t have to have insurance to express myself.
    –steve buser
    New Orleans Daily Photo


  9. moi says:

    this is the craziest thing i have ever heard….these guys have to be crazy to come up wiht something like that….i sure am letting my thoughts be known ….hopefully it will not materialize !!!


  10. moi says:

    This is the craziest thing i have heard about NYC…..how can they come up with some thing as crazy as that….i sure will let my thoughts be known …..hopefully it will not materialize!!!


  11. Tour Marm says:

    This is outrageous!

    Am I supposed to get a permit for all my students who tour the city?

    Yet another bureaucracy is being created to limit our freedom!

    Next. we’ll need a permit to breathe the air!


  12. hiutopor says:


    Very interesting information! Thanks!



  13. Nikole Dixie says:

    nice blog.. Keep it up!


  14. sports says:

    First of all I would like to say fantastic blog! I had a quick question which I’d like to ask if you don’t mind.
    I was interested to know how you center yourself and clear your
    thoughts before writing. I’ve had a difficult time clearing my mind in getting my ideas out there.
    I truly do take pleasure in writing but it just seems like the first 10 to
    15 minutes are lost just trying to figure out how to
    begin. Any recommendations or tips? Cheers!


Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: