Note: This page covers information specific to New York. For general information concerning the use of recording devices see the Recording Phone Calls, Conversations, Meetings and Hearings section of this guide.
New York Wiretapping Law
New York's wiretapping law is a "one-party consent" law. New York makes it a crime to record to record or eavesdrop on an in-person or telephone conversation unless one party to the conversation consents. N.Y. Penal Law §§ 250.00, 250.05. (link is to the entire code, you need to click on the Penal Code section, then choose Article 250 and locate the specific provisions). Thus, if you operate in New York, you may record a conversation or phone call if you are a party to the conversation or you get permission from one party to the conversation in advance. That said, if you intend to record conversations involving people located in more than one state, you should play it safe and get the consent of all parties.
Consult the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press's Can We Tape?: New York for more information on New York wiretapping law.
New York Law on Recording Court Hearings and Public Meetings
New York state appellate courts permit recording subject to the approval of the particular court. Only two television cameras and two still cameras are allowed in the courtroom at any given time. New York trial courts do not allow recording devices in courtrooms.
Federal appellate courts in the Second Circuit, which encompasses New York, permit sound and video recordings of oral arguments under certain circumstances. The Second Circuit does not permit recording of criminal matters, but "any person or entity regularly engaged in the gathering and dissemination of news" may record oral arguments in civil cases if they notify the calendar clerk no later than noon two days prior to the proceeding. The presiding judges have the discretion to exclude the media from the courtroom, and there are limitations on the number of cameras that will be allowed at any time. Recording devices are not permitted in federal district courts in New York.
For information on your right of access to court proceedings, please consult the Access to Government Information section of the guide.
New York courts have held that persons attending a public meeting (i.e., a meeting of a governmental body required to be open to the public by law) have a right to tape or video record the meeting in an unobtrusive way. This does not mean that a governmental body holding a meeting cannot impose restrictions on the use of recording devices, but it may not ban such devices altogether.
For information on your right of access to public meetings, please consult the Access to Government Information section of this guide and the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press's Open Government Guide: New York.