Last month, California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed an anti-paparazzi bill making it easier to sue media outlets that use photos that invade celebrities’ privacy. This bill discourages paparazzi misconduct by allowing tabloid or other publishers to be sued for using images or sound recordings that they knew were obtained violently or illegally. The measure, Assembly Bill 524, will supplement existing prohibitions against trespassing, assault and invasions of privacy by swarms of paparazzi that stake out, chase or antagonize Hollywood stars.The amendment takes effect in January.
Ironically, in the late 1990’s the governors car was ambushed by two “photographers” causing their arrest. It surprises me that it took so long to pass that law!
Aaron McLear, a Schwarzenegger spokesman was quoted as saying that the law was valuable privacy protection for all Californians and suggested its signing was not due to the 1997 altercation in Santa Monica, Calif.
“He makes his decisions based on what’s best for all California,” McLear said.
During the summer of 2007, Angelina Jolie was in Chicago working on a film. I was on the road during that period, but as I was traveling up the coast of California, my cell phone rang with a great “Opportunity”. It was an editor from the Chicago Sun Times, asking me if I, for very little money, would like the opportunity to follow Ms. Jolie and try to get pictures of her and her kids. I told her that I would rather shoot myself in the head! Surprisingly, she hung up on me. When I got back home a few weeks later, and was catching up on the newspapers that I had missed, I read about photographers driving 70 miles per hour through alleys trying to get ahead of Ms. Jolie’s car to be ready when she and her kids got to their destination (A toy store that had to be closed for the afternoon, with paper put over the windows so that she and her family could shop in peace.)
I am sure that when people decide to become actors or professional athletes, it didn’t (until recently) cross their minds that they would lose the ability to have any privacy in their personal life. It seems to me that anyone should have the right to go to dinner with a friend in public without being harassed.
Paparazzi will argue freedom of the press and freedom of speech. Here is what the new bill states: “the right of a free press to report details of an individual’s private life must be weighed against the rights of the individual to enjoy liberty and privacy. There is no right, under the United States Constitution or the California Constitution, to persistently follow or chase another in a manner that creates a reasonable fear of bodily injury.”