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Thread: NYC "tripod law"

  1. #51
    hacker extraordinaire
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    Re: NYC "tripod law"

    The situation is enabled and worsened by the plea bargaining system.

    Since there are not adequate checks in place, police officers are encouraged to arrest and book suspects anyway, without even charging them with something they think will stand trial. There is no penalty on individual officers for harassing or arresting someone who is later released, so they will often trump up some charge and take them in out of lack of anything better to do.

    Since prosecutors also have no proper checks placed on them, they will throw the book at the suspect in an attempt to scare them into plea bargaining to a lesser, though completely unjust charge, which bolsters their conviction rating without having to stand trial. There is no penalty for them charging someone with a crime that does not stand trial. They could charge you with manslaughter for littering, and they would have suffered no penalty except that it doesn't pass trial. You, on the otherhand, have to defend yourself against this charge that could put you in jail. The subject at this point faces going to expensive trial to defend himself against a pile of outrageous charges, so he plea bargains. Now he has an arrest record, a criminal record, may be completely innocent, and has not stood trial, simply by acting in his best interest. There has been no "justice" in any non-perverse sense.

    And this is the basis of our "criminal justice" and penal systems, which are basically just self-perpetuating bureaucratic institutions that destroy lives and real justice far out of proportion to any positive benefit. Jails are always full because the prison system can't demand more funding for a half-full jail. As the effectors of this system, it's no wonder the police are so often reviled. If one's luck is low, one encounter with the wrong officer could end up literally ruining one's life, while police officers themselves seem to be above the law.

  2. #52

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    Re: NYC "tripod law"

    Interesting bit of news regarding this subject for our UK brothers was mentioned over at DP review. At least the video's and blogs are having a positive affect on this there.

    http://www.dpreview.com/news/1003/10...vstatement.asp
    Søren

    "I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by." -Douglas Adams-

  3. #53

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    Re: NYC "tripod law"

    Definitive answer from the NYC Mayor's Office of Film, Theatre and Broadcasting below. There was more email before this, but this was the final exchange. So, print that document I linked to earlier (the woman from the MOFTB recommended this also) and go forth and use your tripods and LF cameras New Yorkers and NYC visitors!!!

    EDIT: I should add that some parks and other semi-public spaces do have add'l rules... Central Park, for instance.

    Me: "I want to confirm that I can use my large format cameras (the 4x5 and the 8x10 ) on a tripod without a permit."

    MOFTB: "You are correct! Your cameras, as long as:

    1) they are either handheld or on a tripod
    2) you have no other equipment staged on the ground
    3) you are not stopping pedestrians from walking around you or “exerting exlusive use of space”

    You do not require a permit from our office. Thank you!"
    Last edited by John NYC; 1-Apr-2010 at 17:31.

  4. #54
    Widows and Orphans Beware
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    Re: NYC "tripod law"

    I realize that this thread has pretty much run its course, but I couldn't resist putting in my two cents worth. I'm a lawyer in NYC, principally in the field of civil rights, and I have sued the City and its police department countless times.

    First, the law itself reads:

    a. The following activities require that a permit be obtained pursuant to this chapter:
    (i) Filming, photography, production, television or radio remotes occurring on City property, as described in subdivision (a) of this section, that uses vehicles or equipment.

    (ii) Filming, photography, production, television or radio remotes occurring on City property, as described in subdivision (a) of this section, (A) if such activity involves the assertion by any means, including physical or verbal, of exclusive use of one or more lanes of a street or walkway of a bridge or (B) if such activity involves the assertion by any means, including physical or verbal, of exclusive use of more than one-half of a sidewalk or other pedestrian passageway or, in a situation in which the sidewalk or pedestrian passageway is narrower than sixteen feet, if such activity involves the assertion by any means, including physical or verbal, of exclusive use of the sidewalk or pedestrian passageway such that less than eight feet is otherwise available for pedestrian use.


    What this means basically is that you have to make sure there are at least 8 feet of sidewalk for use by pedestrians if you are using a tripod.

    In terms of dealing with the police, here is my advice. Be friendly and relaxed. Do not show annoyance or irritation at being interrupted in your work. Do not lecture the officer about your rights or what his job is. Explain what you're doing, show him how the camera works, etc. If he suggests that you can't do what you're doing, say, in a friendly tone, something along the lines of "I think I'm ok because there's more than 8 feet of sidewalk, which is what the ordinance requires." If he insists, ask him, in a friendly voice, to do you a favor and call his Sergeant to check on the 8 foot rule. Keep the dialogue about "us" figuring out what the law is. Always be friendly and relaxed.

    Remember that the cops on this type of beat are usually the less experienced or less capable. This can work in your favor, in that they are likely to be less confident in their own decisions. But it can also work against you if the cop senses that you are on a superiority trip.

    If all fails and he (or she) is absolutely insistent, then your options are to take your lumps and move along (and take some more pictures, somewhere else) or stand your ground and risk getting arrested. If the latter, you are likely to be out of commission for at least 6 hours if you're lucky and 24 if you're not. Where is your camera and equipment going to be in the meantime? If arrested, it's likely to be dismissed down the road, but there's no guarantee of that.

    Can you sue the police? If you're merely hassled, no. If arrested, probably, in which case it might be worth 10-30k, depending on factors, of which about half will go to the lawyer and expenses.

    You can always get an optional permit, which pretty much gives you the ability to do whatever and wherever. I've never gotten one, but perhaps I will just to see what the process involves.

  5. #55
    runs a monkey grinder Steve M Hostetter's Avatar
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    Re: NYC "tripod law"

    Next time you get hasseled remember the cops badge number and report him.

    Don't blow it off as paranoid cops after 9-11 and they are just doing their job ... Police do not make laws they only enforce them so If they question you about something that is not against the law they are NOT doing their job.


    My guess is that every cop in NYC has seen a large format camera and knows what they are!
    Last edited by Steve M Hostetter; 5-May-2010 at 09:36.

  6. #56

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    Re: NYC "tripod law"

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael_4514 View Post
    I realize that this thread has pretty much run its course, but I couldn't resist putting in my two cents worth. I'm a lawyer in NYC, principally in the field of civil rights, and I have sued the City and its police department countless times.

    <snip>

    You can always get an optional permit, which pretty much gives you the ability to do whatever and wherever. I've never gotten one, but perhaps I will just to see what the process involves.
    Nice post.

    One thing to add about the permit though, you have to name all your locations, dates, etc. So, it really doesn't work for someone like me who wants to wake up on a Saturday, decide that the weather is nice and that I feel like making pictures, put on my backpack and wander around the city. That is why it was important to me to get the clarification that using a LF camera on a tripod was itself not against the rules, as that is what the park officer I had the run in with maintained. (He was not bothering the DSLR user with his tripod.)

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