The Bloomberg administration has proposed easing the rules for independent filmmakers regarding permits to film in public spaces in New York City. :

The rules, to be released on Tuesday for public comment, would generally allow people using hand-held equipment, including tripods, to shoot for any length of time on sidewalks and in parks as long as they leave sufficient room for pedestrians.

This change of heart resulted from the lawsuit brought by the New York Civil Liberties Union on behalf of Rakesh Sharma in 2005:

The film office originally agreed to write the rules as part of a settlement in April of a lawsuit brought on behalf of Rakesh Sharma, a documentary filmmaker who was detained by the police in 2005 after using a hand-held video camera in Midtown. Told that he was required to have a permit to film on city property, Mr. Sharma later pursued a permit and discovered that there were no written guidelines on how they were granted, according to the lawsuit.

Hurray for the NYCLU, and the City.