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Streisand sues photographer for posting pictures of Malibu estate

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Streisand sues photographer for posting pictures of Malibu estate

  • Web site states it is dedicated to the preservation of California’s coastline with little emphasis on Streisand’s home.

June 5, 2003 — When you go to Kenneth Adelman’s environmental Web site,, you can see a collection of photographs depicting various points along the Pacific coast. But one photo on the site has put Adelman into stormy waters. That photo shows the sprawling Malibu estate of entertainer Barbra Streisand.

Claiming the photo is an invasion of her privacy, Streisand filed a lawsuit against Adelman May 20.

Adelman maintains that his site is not about celebrities; rather, according to the site, “our goal is to create an aerial photographic survey of the California Coast and update it on a periodic basis.”

“He intends to take shots of the coast every few years to show the degradation of the coast,” said Richard Kendall, Adelman’s attorney. “It’s to provide a resource for anyone interested in the environment to use for purposes of seeing our coast and for use in environmental activism.”

Adelman is charged with three counts of invasion of privacy, violation of misappropriation of the right to publicity code, and violation of the Anti-Paparazzi Act, a California law meant to curtail intrusion by tabloid photographers or by anyone using a telephoto lense of a certain length or an eavesdropping device.

The photographs, taken from Adelman’s helicopter, depict aerial views of the coast and Streisand’s estate. The photographs include features that would not be seen from outside the gates, such as the layout of the pool and the location of her windows and doors to the main and guest houses. Because the photograph reveals much of the estate, the lawsuit claims that it violates the Anti-Paparazzi Act because of the use of technologically enhanced equipment. The law states that photographers can be sued for attempting to take pictures or make audio or video recorders in public places if they use enhancing devices that make it possible to see or hear something in a private place that otherwise could not be heard or seen.

“I used a digital camera without telephoto lens,”Adelman said. “The picture was one of 12,000 and it [the estate] was only 3 percent of the enter picture.”

Streisand’s lawyer, John Gatti, had written two letters warning Adelman that if he did not remove the pictures revealing Streisand’s home from his Web site, he would face legal consequences.

But Kendall said that his client did not violate the Anti-Paparazzi Act.

“There are no people involved at all,” Kendall said. “It amounts to saying that a photographer cannot take a picture of neighborhood if Ms. Streisand lives in that neighborhood. She is not entitled to say that.”

Terry Francke, general counsel to California First Amendment Coalition, a nonprofit open-government organization, agreed that Adelman did not violate the act.

“The images or sounds which are put off-limit are of human beings in some kind of personal or familiar relationship,” Frank said. “So if you don’t have human beings in the picture, it’s hard to see how the anti-paparazzi law has any traction in the first place.”

(Streisand v. Adelman, and; Media counsel: Richard Kendall; Los Angeles, Calif.) LG

© 2003 The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press

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