Suit spurs new rules for NYC filming

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New York will create first-time, written rules for the issuing of film permits under terms of a settlement in a federal case brought by the New York Civil Liberties Union, officials said Wednesday.

The NYCLU said the city on Friday will publish the newly formulated rules and will drop a requirement that filmmakers and photographers show proof of $1 million insurance coverage.

The settlement follows the NYCLU suit filed in January 2006 in U.S. District Court in New York on behalf of Indian documentarian Rakesh Sharma, who was detained in May 2005 for filming a city sidewalk scene with a hand-held video camera. The suit charged that Sharma was told he lacked a necessary permit and then was denied one when he applied.

"Over the last several years, we have received numerous complaints about the mistreatment of filmmakers and photographers," NYCLU associate legal director Christopher Dunn said. "The adoption of these new rules is an important reform, but we will continue to protect the rights of photographers."

The NYCLU said Sharma was paid unspecified damages as part of the settlement.

"As a filmmaker and activist, I was deeply troubled by having to obtain government permission to make a political documentary," Sharma said. "This settlement will free me and other filmmakers from unnecessary government control."
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