Prior to the signing yesterday, California had a law that allowed fines to be assessed against photographers who “illegally or offensively” took photos or recordings. This signing is an amendment to that law which will allow celebrities to sue the media outlets that use the improperly obtained photos or recordings. The amendment will go into effect on January 1, 2010. Paparazzi are often paid millions of dollars by these media outlets for the photos.
Many celebrities have been injured when they are swarmed by these photographers. Schwarzenegger himself had his car swarmed in 1998 while he was picking up his child from school.
In October, 2005, Lindsay Lohan suffered cuts and bruises when she said her Mercedes was run off the road by paparazzi.
Madonna fell from a horse on April 2, 2009 when an overly zealous photographer jumped out from behind some bushes and spooked her horse. She had to be rushed to the hospital for treatment of her injuries.
As recently as last week, actress Nicole Richie was rear-ended in Beverly Hills by a car driven by a paparazzo. The photographer, Eduardo Arrivebene, was arrested and charged with driving without a license.
Celebrities have been trying to get laws passed to reign in the paparazzi for years. The Paparazzi reform initiative was founded in February 2009, by a former Hollywood bodyguard, Sean Burke, to inform the public about how paparazzi harass celebrities, and how out of control the behavior has become.
The purpose of this initiative to get passed into law a “code of ethics” to be applied to all media outlets and to state specifically and emphatically what is and is not permitted. The hoped for end result will be “increased safety and civility to the streets, as well as to those in the spotlight.”
According to Burke, celebrities are not trying to eliminate paparazzi, they are just trying to reign them in a bit to prevent anymore injuries, and potential deaths, not just of celebrities, but also of civilians who are unwittingly too near an incident.
Until laws are passed to protect celebrities and their families, police have little latitude in handling the offending photographers.
Written by Shelby Bateson