New York Penal Law § 275.33: Unauthorized operation of a recording device in a motion picture or live theater in the second 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 § 275.33 you have committed the crime of unauthorized operation of a recording device in a motion picture or live theater in the second degree if you use a recording device in a movie theater or live theater without the permission of the operator of the theater and you do so:

  1. For a commercial purpose,
  2. And record for 15 minutes or more, or
  3. Having been convicted of violating within the past 5 years New York Penal Law § 275.32, Unauthorized operation of a recording device in a motion picture or live theater in the third degree or New York Penal Law § 275.34, Unauthorized operation of a recording device in a motion picture or live theater in the first degree.
Example

Hank went to a small theater to see a performance by a superstar who has not made a public appearance in years. The star performed 5 of his greatest hits. Hank was so excited that he decided to use his cell phone to record the entire live performance. In fact, Hank decided that he might make a lot of money selling the recordings to friends. Hank could be prosecuted for unauthorized operation of a recording device in a motion picture of live theater if he decides to make copies of the recording he made and sell them.

Related Offenses
  1. Unauthorized operation of a recording device in a motion picture or live theater in the third degree: New York Penal Law § 275.32
  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 recording for your own personal use. It also does not apply if you have the permission of the operator of the theater to make the recording.

Sentence

Unauthorized operation of a recording device in the second degree is a Class A misdemeanor. This means that if you are convicted your sentence may include a jail term of up to a year, a probation term of up to 3 years, a fine, and restitution.

New York Penal Law § 275.33: Unauthorized operation of a recording device in a motion picture or live theater in the second degree

A person is guilty of unlawful operation of a recording device in a motion picture or live theater in the second degree when he or she violates § 275.32 of this article: 1. for financial profit or commercial purposes; or 2. in circumstances where the material recorded is fifteen or more minutes, or all or a substantial portion, of the motion picture or live theatrical performance; or 3. in circumstances where such person has previously been convicted within the past five years of violating § 275.32 or 275.34 of this article or this §.

New York Unauthorized Operation of a Recording Device in a Motion Picture or Live Theater in the Second Degree Lawyer

Even though unauthorized operation of a recording device in a motion picture or live theater in the second degree is a misdemeanor and not a 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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