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Comedy Group’s Hip-Hop Film Protests Proposed New Filming Rules For NYC

As the end of the comment period on New York City’s proposed filming rule changes approaches, filmmakers like the comedy group Olde English are mobilizing to protest the rules using film itself.

Olde English’s film “Free NYC Rap” is featured on a new web feature launched today by the New York Civil Liberties Union at The film demonstrates how the proposed rule changes would affect independent filmmaking, and it directs viewers to contact the Mayor’s Office of Film, Theatre & Broadcasting to file comments discouraging the adoption of the rules.

The NYCLU web feature also includes information on the proposed rules and how to file comments on them; a link to a petition launched by a coalition of filmmakers and photographers called Picture New York; and a series of interviews with photographers and filmmakers whose work would be affected by the rules.

Under the new rules, New York City would require permits and insurance for any group of two or more people using a handheld camera in one location for more than thirty minutes. The new rules would also require small groups to obtain a permit and insurance to use a single tripod for more than ten minutes.

The NYCLU objects to the rules because they violate the First Amendment right to photograph in public places and open the door to selective and discriminatory enforcement.

Because there was virtually no public notice about the proposals, many advocacy groups, photographers, and filmmakers did not know about the rules or the opportunity to file objections. After receiving many complaints about the proposed rules, the NYCLU asked the City to reopen the comment period. The new comment period ends this Friday, August 3rd.

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