July 1, 2005

California pursuing paparazzi bill

By Jesse Hiestand

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - A bill has beenintroduced in the California Legislature that would makepaparazzi photographers liable when they engage in assaultivebehavior during the pursuit of celebrities.

AB 381, from Assemblywoman Cindy Montanez, D-San Fernando,would subject a photographer to civil damages if an assault iscommitted during the pursuit of a photograph. In addition, thephotographer would have to forfeit any compensation for thepicture, some of which can be worth hundreds of thousands ofdollars.

"I fully support a free press, but putting people in harm'sway for a photograph cannot be tolerated," Montanez said. "Wewill not let paparazzi profit from their dangerous behavior."

In addition to losing the proceeds from the sale of aphotograph, AB 381 would entitle a victim to seek treblegeneral damages and punitive damages.

The bill is expected to be heard Tuesday in the SenateJudiciary Committee.

The bill was introduced just weeks after a photographerallegedly collided his car with one carrying Lindsay Lohan. Thephotographer, Galo Ramirez, was arrested on suspicion ofassault with a deadly weapon. Police and prosecutors areseparately looking into the possibility that teams of paparazzicould be prosecuted under felony conspiracy charges forendangering celebrities.

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter