Busking is Legal
Busking is a constitutional right.
Federal court cases have given street performances First Amendment protection since Goldstein v. Town of Nantucket, 477F. Supp., 606 (1979). There are many court cases where activities on sidewalks, streets, parks, subway platforms, bus stations, and airports were determined to be First Amendment forums.
Necessity and limits of busking regulations
Even if busking is a constitutional right, regulations can be helpful because they can describe in detail what activities the police can regulate and set specific limits on enforcement. Regulations can also help street artists come to terms with overcrowded performance locations and excessive volume conflicts.
However, cities and towns are required to find the least restrictive means for regulating First Amendment expression such as street performing. Generally, there should be a minimum of specific geographic location exclusions and time restrictions upon street performing.
Individual busking can be categorized into three based on its legal status regarding permit. First, in some cities such as the said Cambridge, Buffalo, Toledo, buskers perform on the streets with a permit issued under a busking legislation. Secondly, in some cities like Pittsburgh, buskers should get a temporary permit issued under different legislations which have little to do with busking. Finally, buskers in many cities perform on the streets without any permit and frequently suffer police problems.
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