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Calif. bill proposes fines for paparazzi

July 15, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
A bill to crack down on the paparazzi is making progress in Sacramento, calling for steep fines for photographers who break the law. The increase in clashes between paparazzi and celebrities in recent years has not gone unnoticed. A recent encounter between Michael Jackson's ex-wife, Debbie Rowe, and a photographer quickly escalated. Massive paparazzi crowds have surrounded Britney Spears and created conflict with Malibu residents who were protecting Matthew McConaughey.

A state Senate committee approved an amendment to an anti-paparazzi bill by Assembly Speaker Karen Bass. The amendment is aimed at keeping paparazzi from trespassing onto celebrity estates and from violating traffic laws. In addition, government prosecutors and private individuals could seek civil fines of up to $50,000 against violators.

The American Civil Liberties Union and the California Newspaper Publishers Association oppose the measure, citing violations of free speech. They also say the measure will not solve the current problem.

Assembly Speaker Bass issued the following statement :

"Out of control paparazzi are an increasing threat -- not only to the celebrities they stalk but to the public at large if they happen to get in their way. As long as this reckless behavior remains lucrative, the current laws on the books won't be enough to prevent it. That's why AB 524 goes after the money that spurs reckless paparazzi activity and allows for sanctions against those who knowingly sell or use these ill-gotten images."

The measure still requires a vote by the full Senate.

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