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New York Penal Law 275.34: Unauthorized operation of a recording device in a motion picture or live theater in the first degree

New York Penal Law 275.34: Unauthorized operation of a recording device in a motion picture or live theater in the first degree is a class E felony. There are several ways one could be convicted with such a charge. The common factor between these possibilities is that one is caught in the act of filming a movie within a cinema or recording a live show when they do not have a legal right to do so, such as holding a copyright or recording for a company. There are various levels of severity to this charge as well, depending on whether the recording is for personal use or whether the individual caught intended to sell the video for profit. One could face such a charge whether they are recording with a professional camera, such as a 4K video camera or DSLR, or even if they are making a recording with a mobile device such as a cell phone or tablet.
There are also three levels to Unauthorized operation of a recording device in a motion picture or live theater. New York penal code 275.34 is the most serious. In order to face a first degree charge, one must have a previous conviction of Unauthorized operation of a recording device in a motion picture or live theater in the second degree.
The related offenses to NY PL 275.34 are two. The first is 275.32: Unauthorized operation of a recording device in a motion picture or live theater in the third degree. The second was mentioned above, 275.33: Unauthorized operation of a recording device in a motion picture or live theater in the second degree.
Example
It is common for celebrities to make surprise appearances. When these situations occur, in the age of technology, spectators are quick to jump to their cell phones to capture the moment. If for instance a reclusive comedian such as Dave Chappelle were to have an impromptu performance at a comedy club where he was not scheduled to appear, the audience would revel in the fact that they had access to something special. Instead of valuing the moment, however, one fan may see this as an opportunity to turn a profit. He may pull out his cell phone which has the ability to record 4K quality video and record the entire performance. Say that Chappelle performed longer than 15 minutes, and his performance lasted an hour and a half. If the spectator recorded the entire performance and then made digital copies and sold them on the Internet for five dollars each, they could be arrested and convicted under NY PL 275.34.
Defenses
There are several defenses to New York Penal Code 275.34. The first relates to the time table. The statute for making an illegal recording states that the video must be longer than 15 minutes. If the recording was less than 15 minutes, then there is no violation. Also, the statute states that the recording must be made for commercial use. If one records a live concert, for instance, for personal use, then there is no violation pertaining to Unauthorized operation of a recording device in a motion picture or live theater in the first degree. A NYC criminal lawyer would be well equipped for discussing other avenues of defense.
Sentence
New York Penal Code 275.34 is a class E felony and carries a maximum prison term of four years. In addition, there is the possibility for probation of up to four years as well as a fine.
New York Penal Law 275.33: Unauthorized operation of a recording device in a motion picture or live theater in the second degree
The performing arts industry has been struggling for years, partly because illegal recordings of movies and live performances are cutting into their sales. Law enforcement agencies and the court system all across the country take this type of crime very seriously. If you go to a movie or a live performance and record it on your cell phone or other recording device with the intention of reproducing and selling it for profit, you could be guilty of committing a crime. It is important to understand the details behind New York penal code 275.33 to launch a valid defense if you ever get charged with this crime. Following is a breakdown of unauthorized operation of a recording device, an example to help explain it, and some possible defenses.
New York Penal Code 275.33 Explained
A person is guilty of unauthorized operation of a recording device in a motion picture or live theater in the second degree when they use a recording device without the permission of the theater owner and they:
– plan to use the recording for commercial purposes such as showing it to a large group of people or for profit such as selling it or
– the recording is a large portion or substantially all of the performance, or the recording is 15 minutes or longer in length or
– the person involved has been previously convicted within the last five years of violating Penal Code 275.
Example
Person A went to a Broadway play and recorded the final 20 minutes on her cell phone without permission from the theater owner. Her high school drama club was performing the same play and she wanted them to see the portion that they were struggling with. When she showed the illegal recording the the cast of her drama club, she was in violation of New York Code 275.33.
Person B went to a movie and recorded the entire thing on his cell phone without the permission of the theater owner, knowing that the movie wouldn’t be for sell to the general public on disk for several months. He went home and burned several copies of the movie on disk and sold them to his friends. Person B was also in violation of New York Code 275.33.
A violation of New York Penal Code 275.33 could result in a Class A misdemeanor. A conviction could result in up to one year in prison, up to 3 years probation, restitution, and a fine.
Potential Defense
Both Persons A and B could claim a defense if they had gotten permission of the theater owner to record either part or the entire performance or movie. In addition, another defense would be if either person made the recording simply for their own personal use and did not distribute it or show it to anyone else. However, simply recording a movie or live performance without permission is illegal whether you intended personal gain or not. In this case, the charges could be reduced from second degree (person gain) to third degree (illegal recording for any reason).
Summary
Unauthorized operation of a recording device in a movie or live performance theater is illegal. If you get caught, it is important to contact a good New York City criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Even if this is only a misdemeanor charge, a conviction could send you to jail and ruin your life. An experienced attorney will be able to research the details of your individual case and launch the best possible defense to reduce or dismiss the charges.
New York Penal Law 275.32: Unauthorized operation of a recording device in a motion picture or live theater in the third degree
For those that are employed in the entertainment industry, one of the most concerning risks is piracy. Similar to other areas of the country, the New York City penal code has implemented a variety of rules and laws that prevent certain kinds of piracy. One of the laws in New York that is designed to prevent and reduce piracy is unauthorized operation of a recording device in a motion picture or live theater in the third degree is not a major crime.
This crime would occur if someone was to enter a motion picture or live theater and was to take a recording of a film. Generally speaking, there is no minimum or maximum of potential damage related to this crime specifically. In some more sever cases, this crime is charged in addition to more serious piracy charges, including selling bootlegged various of a movie or film
Examples of the Crime
The crime of unauthorized operation of a recording device in a motion picture or live theater in the third degree does occur regularly. A simple example of this would be if you were to attend a movie or live theater event and then try to record the event. Whether you intend to show the film to others, sell a bootlegged version, or do anything else, the simple act of recording is a crime.
Defense of the Crime
If you are charged with unauthorized operation of a recording device in a motion picture of live theater in the third degree, it would be wise to contact an attorney immediately. While the crime is not a major charge, it could still end up on your permanent record. Furthermore, this crime is often added on to more serious charges pertaining to your intent to sell bootlegged material.
When working with a NYC criminal lawyer to defend your case, the main form of defense will be to try and prove that you were permitted in a way to record the event. Furthermore, the crime technically only pertains to live action theaters and motion picture theaters. This is a broad term, which could be construed as vague. Depending on where the incident took place, you could have the charges dropped altogether.
Penalties for the Crime
In general, if you are charged with unauthorized operation of a recording device in a motion picture of live theater in the third degree, the penalty will not be too severe if you are convicted. In most cases, the judge will provide you with a modest penalty. However, if you have been charged with the crime in the past, the judge does have the right to sentence you up to 15 days in prison.
If you were later caught trying to sell the bootlegged material, or even give it away for free, the penalties could be more significant. These piracy laws have max punishments with jail times in excess of 6 months and much larger monetary fines.
In conclusion, unauthorized operation of a recording device in a motion picture or live theater in the third degree, but it should not be taken lightly. If you were charged with this crime, it would be a good idea to contact your NYC criminal lawyer immediately. The lawyer will be able to work with the prosecutor and legal system in an attempt to have the charges dropped entirely.

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