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Proposed anti-paparazzi law pushed in Legislature

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NEWS MEDIA UPDATE   ·   CALIFORNIA   ·   Newsgathering   ·   July 15, 2005

Proposed anti-paparazzi law pushed in Legislature

  • Freelance photographers seeking candid celebrity shots who make an “intentional, unlawful threat” of injury would be liable for greater damages in civil suits under a bill the state Senate is considering.

July 15, 2005  ·   An anti-paparazzi bill that would heavily punish the pursuit of celebrities by over-aggressive photographers in California won Senate Judiciary Committee endorsement Tuesday, two weeks after being introduced in its current form. Assemblywoman Cindy Monteñez (D-San Fernando) is trying to push through the anti-paparazzi measure before the legislative session ends.

The proposal was added to an unrelated bill concerning contracts for minors in artistic employment that was gutted and replaced with a bill adding triple damages for assault — the apprehension of injury — to a section of California Civil Code.

The proposed new section is not geared toward most press photographers. Rather, it says a person would be liable for assault if he or she intentionally injures another person under circumstances causing the victim to have a reasonable fear of violence. While such action has always constituted assault, the bill would provide that violators would be liable for triple damages and disgorgement of profits.

Dana Mitchell, Monteñez’ legislative director, said a recent incident involving film star and singer Lindsay Lohan sparked the push to pass the bill.

Lohan, 18, was driving her Mercedes-Benz in Los Angeles in May when a paparazzo trying to photograph her allegedly intentionally struck the car. Police arrested the driver, Galo Ramirez, on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon, according to the Los Angeles Times. He was later charged with felony assault.

“This is not just privacy,” Mitchell said. The paparazzi “are physically trying to attack people.”

“Boxing,” or the act of paparazzi working together to hem in a celebrity and get pictures, is part of what Monteñez is trying to combat, Mitchell said.

(A.B. 381)JM

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