New York Penal Law § 275.32: Unauthorized operation of a recording device in a motion picture or live theater in the third degree

It is against the law to go to the movies or attend a live performance in a theater and record it. In order to record a performance, you must have the permission of the person who operates the theater. If you are unable to secure such permission and you record the performance anyway, you could be charged with a crime. Under New York Penal Law § 275.32 you have committed the crime of unauthorized operation of a recording device in a motion picture or live theater in the third degree if you use a recording device in a movie theater or live theater without the permission of the operator of the theater.

Example

Melissa went to a theater to see a live performance. She was so excited that she decided to use her cell phone to record the entire performance so that she could watch it again at home. Melissa was caught making the recording and was charged with unauthorized operation of a recording device in a motion picture or live theater in the third degree. Sally argued that she was not planning on selling the recording. Sally's argument is irrelevant. Under the statute it is illegal to make the recording even if you have no intention of selling it.

Related Offenses
  1. Unauthorized operation of a recording device in a motion picture or live theater in the second degree: New York Penal Law § 275.33
  2. Unauthorized operation of a recording device in a motion picture or live theater in the first degree: New York Penal Law § 275.34
Defenses

This statute does not apply if you have the permission of the operator of the theater to make the recording. In addition, the statute only applies to recordings made in a "motion picture theater" or a "live theater." While these terms have broad meanings under New York Penal Law § 275.32(2), if the venue in which you made the recording is not a motion picture theater or a live theater, you may have a valid defense to the charge.

Sentence

Unauthorized operation of a recording device in the second degree is a violation. This means that if you are convicted you could be sentenced to up to 15 days in jail and you could be required to pay a fine.

New York Penal Law § 275.32: Unauthorized operation of a recording device in a motion picture or live theater in the third degree
  1. A person is guilty of unlawful operation of a recording device in a motion picture or live theater in the third degree when without authority or written permission from the operator of a motion picture theater or live theater, the person operates a recording device in such theater.
  2. As used in this § (a) "recording device" means a photographic or video camera, or any audiovisual recording function of any device used for recording the sound or picture of a motion picture; (b) "operator" means the owner or lessee of a motion picture theater or live theater or the authorized agent or employee of such owner or lessee; (c) "motion picture theater" means a theater, screening room, auditorium or other venue that is being utilized primarily for the exhibition of a motion picture at the time of the offense; and (d) "live theater" means a concert hall, recital hall, theater, or auditorium in which a presentation is rendered, consisting in whole or in part of a musical, dramatic, dance, or other stage rendition by one or more professional performers who appear in person in the immediate presence of their audiences, and admission to which is limited by its operator to persons holding an admission ticket or who have other authority or written permission to enter. Live theater shall not mean or include a musical, dramatic, dance, or other stage rendition that is performed by students enrolled in a school or college or as a part of a children's camp or similar program.
New York Unauthorized Operation of a Recording Device in a Motion Picture or Live Theater in the Third Degree Lawyer

Even though unauthorized operation of a recording device in a motion picture or live theater in the third degree is a violation and not a misdemeanor or felony, it is still important to have experienced representation. The staff at Stephen Bilkis & Associates, PLLC has years of experience successfully defending clients in New York criminal courts who have been charged with crimes related to the unauthorized recording of a performance and music piracy. Contact us at 1.800.NY.NY.LAW (1.800.696.9529) to schedule a free, no obligation consultation regarding your case. We serve those accused of crimes in the following locations:

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