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May 6, 2017

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.

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