Subject: "Turning off the cameras"

I have received your letter and enclosed a copy of an advisory opinion involving the same principle. Although the issue addressed in that opinion involved a public body turning off its audio tape recorder, I believe that the outcome would be same in the situation that you described. In brief, there is nothing in any law of which I am aware that requires a public body, such as a board of education, to record its meetings. It may choose to do so, but it is not obligated to do so. I point out, however, that judicial decisions, as well as an amendment to the Open Meetings that will become effective on , April 1, 2011, indicate that any member of the public may record or broadcast an open meeting of a public body, so long as the use of equipment is not disruptive or obtrusive. I note, too, there is nothing in the law that requires that minutes or recordings of meetings be made available online. Again, governmental entities may choose to do so, but there is no provision containing such a requirement.
I hope that the foregoing and the opinion previously rendered will be useful to you.

Robert J. Freeman
Executive Director
Committee on Open Government
Department of State
One Commerce Plaza
Suite 650
99 Washington Avenue
Albany, NY12231
Phone: (518)474-2518