27 July 2007



Subject: Press Release - “Picture New York” Formed In Response to Mayor's Plans to Limit Cameras

For Immediate Release
Contacts: Lisa Guido (917) 573-2282 Julie Talen (through July 31) (212) 226-4651

email Picture New York

Artists Band Together to Fight Restrictions on Street Photography

"Picture New York" Formed In Response to Mayor's Plans to Limit Cameras

YouTube "Video Public Comments" to be Submitted to Mayor's Office

NEW YORK CITY: Picture New York WITHOUT pictures of New York. The most photographed city in the world is about to be shut down visually by proposed regulations which would basically make it illegal to film or tape in NYC without a permit and a million dollars of insurance.

An overnight, massive grassroots fight against these proposed regulations has sprung up under the name 'Picture New York.' Fighting back with YouTube videos, petitions, handwritten letters, a website, Flickr space and a rally and press conference this Friday in Union Square, this ad-hoc group of working artists, photographers and filmmakers vow to stop the regulations going into effect as scheduled in September from the Mayor's Office of Film, Theatre, and Broadcasting (MOFTB).

Albert Maysles, Patti Smith, Michael Stipe and Amy Arbus are among the celebrated artists who have already signed on to demand the MOFTB extend the period of public comment, currently ending August 3, and eliminate the proposed regulations: 11 pages of single-spaced rules where none existed before.

Jem Cohen, the critically-acclaimed filmmaker whose alarmed e-mail prompted the first formal meeting of concerned filmmakers, says, "Because street photography is, by its very nature, inextricably born out of free and random movement through the city, street photographers cannot know exactly where and when they intend to work, or for how long. One cannot regulate an art form or activity by negating its very premise. The proposed rules, in refusing to recognize the spontaneity which is at the core of street photography, are untenable for that reason alone."

"I already have a permit for my camera," says another of the group's founders, Beka Economopoulos. "It's called the First Amendment."

Since the Mayor's Office has asked for public comments, Picture New York has come up a new form: the Video Public Comment. The first - perhaps ever - Video Public Comment has already been posted to YouTube by artist Juliana Luecking and more will follow. Picture New York wants to invite anyone who loves the city and their camera to make one and post it. (To learn how to make a Video Public Comment, please see the website at pictureny.org.)

The proposed regulations will affect every kind of filming and photography in the city, aside from artists. Industrials, fashion, wedding and architectural photographers will need a permit and insurance for anything that takes more than a half hour and two people to shoot. A film school graduate with a camcorder, four friends and a dream will now have to pay the same fee to New York City to shoot as HBO does – because the regs include anything that takes more than 10 minutes to shoot with a tripod. Even parents making home movies in public parks would fall under the new rules.

As the Daily News says the regulations "are, in a word, nuts. . . "They were written as if small bands of rogue photographers were running amok. And they won't withstand court challenge unless the cops come down equally on everyone taking pictures, including mom and dad filming junior and pals at the playground." The conservative New York Sun agrees: "It would be a sad day if New York became a place where a family has to get a permit before making a home video."

The proposed rules are reminiscent of the MTA's failed attempt to ban photography in the subways two years ago. "If we can take photographs underground without permits," points out television producer Susan Marcoux, "we certainly should be able to take them above ground."

"This is micro-management of public space taken to an absurd level. What are the police going to do – time people holding cameras?" asks Eileen Clancy of I-Witness Video who has written about conflicts between police and camera people after September 11th. "These new rules give the police another excuse to arrest anybody they don't like with a camera."

These regulations violate the First Amendment right to photograph in public places, points out the NYCLU, and follow a slew of recent laws that already restrict rights in New York City to parade, dance, meet, bike, shout, and assemble. Draconian noise ordinances and the new parade and assembly laws make constitutionally-protected dissent almost impossible. Now, with regulations on street photography, New York City adds yet another infringement on civil liberties and free expression, which is why Picture New York will be participating in a press conference and First Amendment-themed rally at Union Square at 6:30pm this Friday, July 27.

* Friday, July 27, 2007 6:30pm - First Amendment Rally with Rev. Billy north end of Union Square Park

email Picture New York
Mayor's Office on Film proposed regulations text

View signatures on ePetition
Union Square Rally: Friday, July 27 PICTURENEWYORK.ORG

Daily News and The NY Sun editorials links:

Juliana Luecking's YouTube response to the proposed regulations

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