New anti-paparazzi law broadens tort liability for “trespass”
CALIFORNIA–In late September, California Governor Pete Wilson signed into law a bill which creates new tort liability for news photographers who trespass in order to invade a person’s privacy with “malicious” intent. If a photographer is found in violation of the new law, he or she will be liable for up to three times the “general or special” damages awarded by a jury, as well as punitive damages.
The law will make photographers liable for invasion of privacy when an individual trespasses on private property with “the intent to capture any type of visual image, sound recording, or other physical impression of the plaintiff engaging in a personal or familial activity and the physical invasion occurs in a manner that is offensive to a reasonable person.”
The new legislation would also allow individuals to sue for “constructive” trespass, or trespass to obtain, by way of an electronic enhancing device of a visual or auditory nature, an image that the photographer could not have obtained otherwise without physically trespassing.
The bill will take effect on January 1, 1999. (Cal. Civil Code Section 1708.8)