State assembly strengthens paparazzi anti-stalking bill

Actress Salma Hayek poses during the closing ceremony at the 63rd Cannes Film Festival on May 23, 2010 in Cannes.
Actress Salma Hayek poses during the closing ceremony at the 63rd Cannes Film Festival on May 23, 2010 in Cannes. Martin Bureau/Getty Images

LOS ANGELES -- The California Assembly today passed a strengthened anti-stalking bill that could result in paparazzi being arrested for hanging around outside a celebrity's home or workplace or the school of a star's child.

Assembly Speaker Karen Bass, D-Los Angeles, said she authored the bill in a bid to stem the aggressive tactics of paparazzi vying to get valuable photos and recordings of celebrities while the stars are engaged in private personal and familial activities.

"Out-of-control paparazzi create dangerous situations when they stalk artists and their families,'' Bass said. "This legislation will curtail these actions by enforcing stiffer penalties by reigning in the out-of-control paparazzi who go to such lengths as circling artists' cars and preventing them from entering their homes in the name of photos-for-profit.''

Assembly Bill 2479 would bolster current law by targeting individuals who commit a physical trespass or "constructive invasion of privacy'' with the intent to take a photograph or image of a person, "if the invasion occurs in a manner that is offensive to a reasonable person.''

The bill also addresses cases of false imprisonment, when artists are prevented from exiting their vehicles by throngs of paparazzi.

"The entertainment industry is a linchpin of California's economy,'' Bass said. "People shouldn't have to sacrifice their safety and family's privacy just because they work in that industry.''

Additionally, the bill provides enhanced monetary penalties up to three times the amount of any general and special damages, punitive damages, and the repayment of any proceeds obtained if the invasion of privacy was committed in order to sell the photos for commercial use.

The bill now moves on to the Senate, which is expected to vote on the legislation in the fall, said Bass spokesman Sam Katzen.

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