California introduces ‘anti-paparazzi’ law

Schwarzenegger signs into law new measures aimed at media

The Governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger, has signed into law Assembly Bill 2479 which is aimed at addressing the aggressive tactics of the paparazzi by imposing jail terms of up to a year on those that drive recklessly in pursuit of an image or recordings of another person. The bill also allows civil law suits against media outlets that publish photos taken illegally.

The anti-paparazzi legislation overwhelmingly passed both the state senate and assembly last summer. The legislation was authored by Speaker Emeritus Karen Bass and has drawn the support of famous celebrities such as Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon. Opponents of the Act, however, such as the California Newspaper Publishers Association, believe that the Bill is too far-reaching and could violate the First Amendment rights of journalists.

In addition to increased sentences for paparazzis in pursuit of images, the Bill also provides for significant remedies for invasion of privacy where surveillance techniques are used.  It also increases penalties for false imprisonment.