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The Terminator has added a new weapon to the arsenals of celebrities, like himself, who are waging an ongoing war against the paparazzi. This past Sunday, Governor Schwarzenegger signed an amendment to California’s anti-paparazzi law, which will allow lawsuits against media outlets that provide compensation for and first publish images that they knew were illegally obtained.
California’s anti-paparazzi law, Cal. Civil Code § 1708.8, was approved in 1998 and made photographers liable for “physical invasion of privacy” when they trespass to take pictures of someone who is engaging in “personal or familial activity.” Furthermore, they are liable if they perform the same activities, yet avoid trespass only by using a visual enhancing device. Under the law, photographers are liable for up to three times the amount of damages proximately caused. In 2005, the law was amended to cover photographers who commit assault in pursuit of images. The current amendment will allow for suits against media outlets.
Celebrity-paparazzi battles have continued with fervor despite laws attempting to end invasive paparazzi behavior. Front-page examples include Britney Spear’s famous umbrella attack and Kate Moss and her children being swarmed at the airport. Additionally, many celebrities such as Lindsay Lohan and, recently, Nicole Richie have been in car crashes where paparazzi have been involved.
Now, Schwarzenegger has reloaded, and this time he’s taking aim at the magazines, which profit from the paparazzi antics. Magazines such as People and OK! have paid millions for celebrity photos because of the profit in peddling these pictures to the celebrity-crazed public.
The new amendment will become effective in January 2010. Will this cause the paparazzi to lay down their zoom lenses and retreat? It will be interesting to see what effect, if any, the new amendment will have on paparazzi behavior.
– Jenn Weizenecker
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