New York City Adopts Permit Rules

Discussion in 'Casual Photo Conversations' started by craig_gillette, Jul 15, 2008.

  1. I wasn't sure the best forum (Business, Street or Travel?) but the NYC Mayor's Office of Film, Theatre and
    Broadcasting has adopted it's permit rules. I received this yesterday in response to a question I'd sent them a
    while back. This is apparently the outcome of the rule-making processes started last year. (I think I've caught
    all the jumbled characters)

    Mayor's Office of Film, Theatre and Broadcasting Adopts Permit Rules

    July 14, 2008 - Commissioner Katherine Oliver of the Mayor's Office of Film, Theatre and Broadcasting (MOFTB)
    today announced the adoption of rules governing the issuance of permits in connection with filming activity in
    New York City. The rules, which were published today in the City Record and will go into effect thirty days
    after publication on August 13, will require a permit if filmmakers use vehicles or equipment, or, in certain
    situations, assert exclusive use of City property. Permits will not be required for casual photographers,
    tourists, credentialed members of the media, or other members of the public who do not use vehicles or equipment
    or assert exclusive use of City property. The adopted rules outline the practices of the MOFTB, codifying the
    procedures that have existed since the office was established in 1966. A copy of the rules and an accompanying
    "Q & A" document explaining them are available on the MOFTB website at

    "For more than four decades, the Mayor's Office of Film, Theatre and Broadcasting has served as the one-stop shop
    for productions in New York City, and these new rules will strengthen our office's ability to serve both the
    industry and the public," said Commissioner Oliver. "We wish to thank the industry, the film community and other
    groups for working with us as we formulated these rules that substantially mirror our practices of assisting film
    and television productions shooting on location in the City."

    MOFTB first published proposed permit rules in the City Record on May 25, 2007, held a public hearing regarding
    the rules on June 28, 2007, and received extensive comments through August 3, 2007. MOFTB then republished the
    rules for comment on October 30, 2007, received additional extensive comments, and held another public hearing on
    December 13, 2007. Since that time, all comments received have been reviewed as the final version of the rules
    was prepared.

    When a Permit Is Required

    Under the adopted rules, a permit would be required for filming if equipment or vehicles, as defined in the rule,
    are used or if the person filming asserts exclusive use of City property. Equipment does not include hand-held
    devices (such as hand-held film, still, or television cameras or videocameras) or tripods used to support such
    cameras, but a permit would be required in certain situations when the person filming asserts exclusive use of
    City property while using a hand-held device.

    Anyone wishing to apply for a permit can find the proper documents, including fillable PDFs, and other useful
    information for shooting in the five boroughs online at Among other information, applicants
    will be asked to provide their contact information, duration of project, proof of insurance, and other relevant
    production details for a required permit.

    When a Permit Is Not Required

    A permit is not required for filming that uses hand-held cameras or tripods and does not assert exclusive use of
    City property. Standing on a street, walkway of a bridge, sidewalk, or other pedestrian passageway while using a
    hand-held device and not otherwise asserting exclusive use of City property is not an activity that requires a

    In addition, activity that involves the filming of a parade, rally, protest or demonstration does not require a
    permit except when equipment or vehicles are used. The rules also provide that press photographers, who are
    credentialed by the New York Police Department (NYPD) do not need to obtain a MOFTB permit.

    Optional Permits

    When a permit is not required, it is possible to apply for an optional permit. A person wishing to apply for an
    optional permit would present much of the same documentation as someone seeking a required permit (e.g. request
    for dates, times and locations and contact information). Liability insurance is not required in connection with
    an optional permit. Sometimes there has been confusion as to whether or not a permit is required. As a result,
    and as an accommodation to filmmakers, MOFTB has routinely issued permits in those instances where a permit is
    not required. The rules are consistent with this longstanding practice.

    Liability Insurance

    Liability insurance is needed for those who obtain a required permit. However, when an applicant can demonstrate
    that obtaining the required insurance would impose an unreasonable hardship, MOFTB may waive the need for
    liability insurance. In addition, student filmmakers can meet their liability insurance obligations through
    coverage under their school's insurance program.


    Since its inception, MOFTB has always offered free permits requiring only liability insurance under certain
    circumstances. In addition, if warranted by the activity, MOFTB also coordinates free police assistance to
    streamline filming in New York City. The permit has served as the filmer's authorization to interact with, and
    stage production activity, on City property. By codifying existing procedures as a rule, MOFTB has endeavored to
    meet the challenge of identifying a threshold level of activity which necessitates a film permit, while at the
    same time substantially mirroring its current practices. The NYPD is formulating a directive to inform their
    officers about the new rules.

    The MOFTB was the first film commission established in any locality in the United States, and is the one-stop
    shop for all production needs in New York City, including free permits, free public locations and free police
    assistance. The agency markets New York City as a prime location, provides premier customer service to
    production companies and facilitates production throughout the Cityメs five boroughs.

    Press contact:

    Marybeth Ihle

    Mayor's Office of Film, Theatre, and Broadcasting


    Tel: (212) 489-6710, ext. 247

    Fax: (212) 307-6237

  2. Well, for the folks that were arguing that the NYC civil rights sky is falling, this certainly seems entirely reasonable. A walk-around hard copy of this seems like an excellent tool, should an on-the-street LEO (or someone inclined to call one) not yet have received and digested their own copy.
  3. I think this will boil down to a "permit for commercial activity in a public space" where the "authorities" (the people in government responsible for the public space) cannot refuse, only coordinate. Photography itself is not a "permitted" activity. Photography is free speech. Photography is copyright (try limiting people's rights to make copyright artifacts!). Photography is free press. Prohibiting or regulating photography itself in a public space would also be restraint-of-trade. However, some people do think that public photography should and can be regulated. They are inaccurate. We should speak up and let them know we photographers are expressors and celebrators of freedom. Photography is not terrorism. Photography is not probable cause of a crime. Prohibiting photography, as is done in China, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and so on, IS terrorism. Prohibiting or regulating photography is un-American.
  4. Peter, I do not get your title/explanation line underneath the airport photo. Why would you not be allowed to catch
    this view directly? There are no security issues involved in that scene .. Self - censoring, maybe ?

    But the idea to catch the scene via a mirror of a window is nice, as is the pic!
  5. Hi Frank,

    You're not the only one feeling challenged to find explicit or implicit meaning in my photo sharing.

    Thanks for the feedback. Perhaps "... for supposed security reasons ..." would expand the description and situation in the picture above. Pointing my camera out the window caused no attention or reaction to me, but shooting aimed directly inside the airport did cause some attention, and the passenger inspection turnstiles with their x-ray machines do have a sign saying no photography.

    Moreover, I'd LOVE others to explore their photo archives and share their experiences visually. It is, after all, As a photographer, do you have a visual response to the content of the thread?

Share This Page