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Although she is only one of many stars that drive the lucrative celebrity news industry, in 2007 Britney Spears’ personal woes made her arguably the “most bankable star.” Many unique pictures of Britney fetched the paparazzi paychecks exceeding $10,000. Everywhere Britney goes, paparazzi follow, and follow dangerously. In early January 2008, four paparazzi were arrested for driving recklessly while chasing Spears around LA.
As aggressive paparazzi become more hazardous, should cities enact laws protecting celebrities and their privacy? California has already adopted civil laws allowing victims of paparazzi assaults to seek up to triple damages. Recently, Los Angeles Councilman and former police officer Dennis Zine proposed a city law that would create minimum safety zones for celebrities; however, LA’s police chief considers the proposal unenforceable.
While the danger that aggressive paparazzi pose to both celebrities and the public is apparent, enforcement is practically difficult. “Celebrity” and “paparazzi” do not have clear definitions when reality television makes average Joes famous and everyday people often sell pictures to publications. Unfortunately, California’s civil code does not attempt any clarification. In addition, with proposed criminal codes, the resulting expenditure of police resources to protect the “rich and famous” is questionable when celebrities can afford to foot the bill. Regardless of the code, celebrity protection is costing the LAPD. In January 2008, when paramedics removed Spears from her home, her escort cost the police force $25,000.
— Britt Doolittle
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