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electronic contracts / new camera law in New York 
August 29, 2017
electronic contracts
I purchased alarm contracts from you a few weeks ago and I have a question.  I found a website called and they have a link to your website on it.  They convert existing contracts into an e-contract that can be emailed or completed on a tablet.  Is this an acceptable way of completing contracts?  Is there any legal issues?  Is it better to stay with paper contracts?
Thanks for your help
    Electronic contracts are acceptable - same as paper.  It's the law.  In order to comply with consumer laws you will also need consent from your consumer customer to deliver the contract and other necessary documents, such as the 3-day notice of cancellation form, electronically.  For that use the Disclosure and Consent to Electronic Communication form found at
    Electronic contracts, like paper contracts, need to be properly worded.   The Standard Form Kirschenbaum TM contracts are used in print or electronic format. turns the contracts into electronic format.  It is featured on The Alarm Exchange under Technology and Services that increase or preserve your RMR
new camera law - New York and other states 
This was reported on SDM InfoCenter on August 17, 2017:
    "It is now illegal to make unauthorized video surveillance recordings of a neighbor’s backyard in New York. 
    Assemblyman Edward Braunstein, the bill’s sponsor, said he heard from people throughout the state who have been victimized by the practice, according to an AP report. Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the bill, saying the legislation will give people legal recourse to sue a neighbor who records activities in their backyard with the intent to harass, threaten or annoy them.
     Unlawful surveillance of places where there is an expectation of privacy — such as bathrooms and changing rooms — was made a crime in 2003, the report stated, but this bill would extend to the yards of New York citizens."
    The article is not entirely accurate.  It is not necessarily unlawful if cameras capture parts or even all of a neighbor's back yard.  Here is the New York statute which becomes effective September 15, 2017:
  "Civil Rights Law § 52-a
§ 52-a. Private right of action for unwarranted video imaging of residential premises
Currentness       <[Eff. Sept. 15, 2017.]>
1. Any owner or tenant of residential real property shall have a private right of action for damages against any person who installs or affixes a video imaging device on property adjoining such residential real property for the purpose of video taping or taking moving digital images of the recreational activities which occur in the backyard of the residential real property without the written consent thereto of such owner and/or tenant with intent to harass, annoy or alarm another person, or with intent to threaten the person or property of another person. The provisions of this section shall not apply to any law enforcement personnel engaged in the conduct of their authorized duties.
2. For the purposes of this section, “backyard” shall mean that portion of the parcel on which residential real property is located which extends beyond the rear footprint of the residential dwelling situated thereon, and to the side and rear boundaries of such parcel extending beyond the rear footprint of such residential dwelling."
    The law is not an outright ban on positioning cameras so that they cover some or all of a neighbors back yard.  Also, it's not "illegal" which means a violation of a criminal law.  The statute gives a private right of action, a new cause of action, for the violation but does not impose any criminal penalty.  The statute also requires that there be an "intent to harass, annoy or alarm another person, or with intent to threaten the person or property of another person ..."   The burden of proving "intent" will be on the complaining neighbor, not the neighbor placing the cameras.  Furthermore, the complaining neighbor will also have the burden of proving damages, another hurdle that will have to be overcome.  
    How this is likely to play out?
  • If you place cameras on your property, to protect your property, and the camera also happens to cover some of your neighbors back yard, you are not likely liable under this new law.
  • If you place cameras primarily directed to the neighbor's back yard without any justification [which would be your burden of proof] then you would likely be liable.  Justification may be that your property is relatively secure and your neighbor's is not and there is history of trespass into your yard from your neighbor's yard. That still wouldn't justify focusing the cameras on the hot tub or sun bathing area.  
    Monetary damages are not going to be easy to establish.  How the video data is used will certainly affect damages.  If the data is not even viewed and is eventually taped over then there may be no damages.  If the placement of the camera is obvious and causes a neighbor to stay out of the back yard or causes such emotional distress that medical care is needed, there could be significant damages.
    Damages, non-monetary, that may be available would include an affirmative injunction requiring the cameras to be re-positioned.
    The Residential All in One already deals with this.  You are permitted to install the cameras.  The All in One warns the subscriber to ascertain how the cameras can be used lawfully and to use the video lawfully.       Having said that, I do not recommend installing cameras in an obvious improper place, but you can't be liable if the subscriber re-directs the cameras.  
     This law, new to New York, is not particularly unique.  Your state may already have laws dealing with capturing another's image and liability and damages for how you use those images.  Check video laws here:  [there are state laws and federal law]
     Keep in mind that it is unlawfully, almost everywhere, [and that means criminal] for you to mechanically intercept or record audio unless 1) one party consents or 2) all parties consent  [check your state here:


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Ken Kirschenbaum,Esq
Kirschenbaum & Kirschenbaum PC
Attorneys at Law
200 Garden City Plaza
Garden City, NY 11530
516 747 6700 x 301
516 747 6700