Ca. Assembly Passes Anti-Paparazzi Law: Arnie’s Sig Expected

SACRAMENTO, Calif.—Amendments intended to curb the excesses of the paparazzi will soon become law, if, as expected, Governor Schwarzenegger signs the just-passed legislation.

The California Assembly on Tuesday passed by a vote of 43-13 two amendments to the California vehicle Code related to stalking that would fine photographers up to $5,000 or a year in jail if they “willfully interfere with the driver of a vehicle” in such a way that it affects the driver’s control of the vehicle, follow a vehicle “more closely than is reasonable and prudent, or engage in reckless driving.

The changes would also expand the current law to impose the above liabilities “when a defendant falsely imprisons the plaintiff with the intent to capture any type of visual image, sound recording, or other physical impression of the plaintiff.”

The changes come on top of a series of anti-paparazzi laws passed by the California Assembly since 1998, according to an article in that contains an embedded video used as exhibits in the passage of the law of Kate Moss and her daughter swarmed by photographers as they tried to make their way out of an LAX terminal in 2008. There also is a link to another video of paparazzi surrounding Sandra Bullock’s car. There are, of course, innumerable videos of such circumstances.

The article also notes that the action by the Assembly came on the 13th anniversary of the death of Princess Diana, whose car was being chased by photographers in Paris.

Media groups, including the California Newspaper Publishers Association, argued against the passage of the bill.

“Newspaper journalists and photographers travel as quickly as possible to fires, floods, crime,” the newspaper publishers said. “It is not inconceivable that a journalist or freelance photographer could be hailed (sic) into court and subjected to these new charges and more extreme penalties. The chilling impact of this proposed language is palpable.”

A copy of the bill can be read here.