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“Steven Tyler Act” Getting Opposition In Hawaii

February 8, 2013 | Posted by Joseph Lee

Billboard reports that Steven Tyler will attend a legislative hearing today for a bill that has his name and would limit the freedom of paparazzi to take photo and video of celebrities. Hawaii’s Senate Judiciary Committee will consider the “Steven Tyler Act” this morning, the first time the bill will be discussed publicly.

A publicist for Tyler told the Associated Press yesterday that Tyler provided written testimony about the bill, which would allow people to collect damages from someone who photographs them in an offensive way during their personal or family time.

Tyler said: “The paradise of Hawaii is a magnet for celebrities who just want a peaceful vacation. As a person in the public eye, I know the paparazzi are there and we have to accept that. But when they intrude into our private space, disregard our safety and the safety of others, that crosses a serious line that shouldn’t be ignored.

Several celebrities have supported the bill, including Britney Spears, Avril Lavigne, Neil Diamond, Tommy Lee and the Osborne family. The letters all included the same text. they say that paparazzi have made t hings like cooking with family and sunbathing “luxuries” and the bill would give them “peace of mind”.

They said: “Providing a remedy to the often-egregious acts of the paparazzi is a very notable incentive to purchase property or vacation on the islands. Not only would this help the local economy, but it would also help ensure the safety of the general public, which can be threatened by crowds of cameramen or dangerous high-speed car chases.

Hawaii Governor Neil Abercrombie said he supports the intent of the bill but thinks the language needs to be changed. A state attorney general will testify about legal concerns. Senator Kalani English, from Maui, introduced the bill at Tyler’s request (who owns a multi-million dollar home in Maui). Over two-thirds of the state’s senators have co-sponsored the bill. This will boost celebrity tourism to the area as well as Hawaii’s economy, according to English.

Those against the bill say it’s unconstitutional. Laurie Temple, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union, said it would punish freedom of expression protected by the First Amendment. She added that lawmakers should focus on current stalking laws instead of passing new bills.

The National Press Photographers Association said the bill is “well-meaning but ill-conceived” and ignores constitutional rights. It represents several national media organizations with its letter including the Society of Professional Journalists, the Associated Press Media Editors and the American Society of News Editors. The MPAA also opposes the bill.

The MPAA claims it could make it harder to police movie piracy, because there’s no exemption for law enforcement who want to take photos or video of the people they’re investigating.

It would cause photographers, videographers and distributors to be hit with civil lawsuits if they take, sell or disseminate photos or videos of someone during private or family moments “in a manner that is offensive to a reasonable person.” It doesn’t specify which public places, like Hawaii’s beaches, would be exempt from the bill. It would apply to people who take photos from boats or anywhere else within ocean waters.

English said the bill isn’t supposed to limit beach photos. Tyler said he has had paparazzi hide in his bushes to take photos of him in his house. Photos of stars in swimsuits have been common in tabloids and celebrity magazines.

The state’s largest newspaper, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, published an editorial Thursday that called lawmakers who support the bill “star-struck.” It said that not only could the bill affect journalists, but “it could also make lawbreakers out of anyone taking photographs in public places, be it an ordinary photojournalist or someone with a camera phone.”

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Joseph Lee
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