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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

While attending a concert or going to the movies, it may be tempting to record the performance using your cell phone. However, if you do so you would have committed the crime of unauthorized operation of a recording device in a motion picture or live theater. There are 3 such offenses in New York's criminal code. The specific crime that you will face depends on factors such as whether you intend to use the recording for commercial use or personal use, your criminal record, and the length of the recording. Under New York Penal Law § 275.34 you have committed the crime of unauthorized operation of a recording device in a motion picture or live theater in the first degree if you commit the crime of unauthorized operation of a recording device in a motion picture or live theater in the second degree under New York Penal Law § 275.33, and you have been previously convicted of this crime in the past 10 years.

Example

Nicole went to a nightclub to hang out with her friends. To the surprise and delight of Nicole and the rest of the people at the club, a popular singer made a surprise performance. The performance lasted about 30 minutes. Nicole was able to record the entire performance on her cell phone. If Nicole decides to make copies of the singer's performance and sell them without first getting the singer's permission, she could be prosecuted for unauthorized operation of a recording device in a motion picture or live theater in the second degree. If she has been previously convicted of this crime in the past 10 years, then the charge would be unauthorized operation of a recording device in a motion picture or live theater in the first degree.

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 second degree: New York Penal Law § 275.33
Defenses

The statute requires that the recording you make last at least 15 minutes. If you only record a few minutes of a performance, you would not have violated the statute. In addition, if you made the recording for your own personal use, then you would not have violated the statute as the statute requires an intent to use the recording commercially.

Sentence

Unauthorized operation of a recording device in the first degree is a Class E felony. This means that if you are convicted your sentence may include a prison term of up to 4 years, a probation term of 5 years, and a fine.

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

A person is guilty of unlawful operation of a recording device in a motion picture or live theater in the first degree when he or she commits the crime of unlawful operation of a recording device in a motion picture or live theater in the second degree as defined in § 275.33 of this article and has previously been convicted within the past ten years of violating § 275.33 of this article or this §.

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

If you are accused of unauthorized operation of a recording device in a motion picture or live theater in the first degree, it is 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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