Why the Paparazzi Don’t Need to Fear California’s New Anti-Paparazzi Law

Jennifer Garner and Halle Berry worked strenuously to get the California Legislature to pass their anti-paparazzi law in September 2013. However, this law has yet to change the behavior of the paparazzi.

Anti-Paparazzi LawAs generally defined, California Senate Bill 606 forbids the paparazzi from photographing or attempting to photograph celebrity children without the consent of their parents or guardians. If enforced, the paparazzi may be punished with up to 6 months of jail time and a $10,000 fine.

Even so, the anti-paparazzi law has embedded three big defenses for the paparazzi. The paparazzi is only guilty if he knowingly and willfully take a photograph of a specific child that seriously alarms, annoys, torments, or terrorizes the child or ward, and that serves no legitimate purpose. Essentially, the three defenses are: (1) the paparazzi didn’t knowingly take a photo; (2) the taking of the photograph was not alarming, etc; and (3) the paparazzi had a legitimate purpose of photographing the child.

The paparazzi can also challenge the constitutionality of the law, since the law may violate the freedom of the press in the First Amendment. The law does not define what actions constitutes “alarms, annoys, torments, or terrorizes.” And it does not determine the degree of paparazzi misconduct constitutes a violation. If there is no definition of the terms, then all paparazzi actions may be a violation of the anti-paparazzi law. Thus, the law may be deemed vague and over-broad.

Although the anti-paparazzi law has good intentions, it is pretty safe to assume that it won’t do much to interfere with the routine activities of the paparazzi.

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