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California Briefing / Sacramento

Bill aims to curb paparazzi activity

July 15, 2009|Patrick McGreevy

Told that paparazzi are jeopardizing safety and privacy, California lawmakers advanced a proposal Tuesday that would allow steep fines for illegally taking and distributing photos and videos of celebrities and others who are engaged in "personal or familial activity."

A state Senate committee approved the bill by Assembly Speaker Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles), meant to keep paparazzi from sneaking onto celebrity estates and from violating traffic laws in pursuit of pictures.

The measure would allow prosecutors and private individuals to seek civil fines of up to $50,000 against anyone who takes and sells images of people engaged in personal or familial activity if the violator knows the images were unlawfully obtained and if money is exchanged.

The bill, which still requires a full Senate vote, was opposed by the American Civil Liberties Union, California Broadcasters Assn. and California Newspaper Publishers Assn. The groups argue that the proposal would violate the 1st Amendment rights of the news media.

-- Patrick McGreevy

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