Subject: Re: [GlobalRevolutionMedia] Re: Proposal from radio team
From: micah anderson
Date: Tue, 25 Oct 2011 13:47:00 -0400
To: Pam Tietze <>, Global Revolution Media <>,

On Tue, 25 Oct 2011 07:25:16 -0700 (PDT), Pam Tietze <> wrote:
Ah I see. Are radios allowed in the park? I guess I've been sort of
confused on the details of the amplification restriction. Does anyone
have that information?

I spent my morning reading up on amplification codes in NYC, I was
interested to know if things like if non-electric megaphones (ie. cones)
amplification?. I am most certainly NOT a lawyer, nor do I play one on
TV. I think we should get a hold of the legal team to get a clear

With that said, what I found through my research is as follows:

I believe that the relevant code is defined here: subchapter 6 (page
19) is all about "personal audio devices" (as opposed to commercial)
seems like if its plainly audibile 25 feet away, then its in
violation. violations fines are between $50-175 for first, $100-$350 for
second, and $150-525 for subsequent

There are tables of SPL, relating to different Octave Band
frequencies. SPL = Sound Pressure Level, this is what noise ordinances
frequently use for measurement, its in units of dB:

Geoffrey Blank was the most recent person in NYC history to fight this,
he used to do some speachifying in Union Square with a bullhorn and made
pretty good arguments that requiring permits for amplified sound,
megaphones etc, are "unconstitutional, because devices to amplify sound
can be "indispensable for effective free speech" (Saia v. New York, 334
U.S. 558, 1948)." - this article is pretty interesting about his

It seems like he lost.

This is the general permit form for amplified sound from the NYPD:

but they do not define what "amplified sound" is, so i'm guessing it
falls under the plainly audible within 25 feet and probably some other
provision related to prohibiting enjoyable use of the park (presumably
by people not wanting to be subject to a loud meeting while in the

This leads me to the conclusion that a bunch of low-level speakers,
small FM radios/boomboxes that 10 people or so can gather around to
listen would be totally legal and could do more for legibility AND
"enjoyment" of the park than the people's mic. Each speaker (which could
be a radio receiver or other "personal device") could easily meet the
25ft requirement.

I'm sure caselaw, and other statues probably do apply, and this statute
is not particularly clear to me, since what we are thinking of doing
could meet what I see as the requirements of the law fairly easily.

I think the people's mic has important psychological and empowerment
functions, but serves the intent of these statutes less well than a
carefully-designed distributed sound system that we've been talking
about with the radio-based on.