The state of California is the first in the nation to pass anti-paparazzi legislation. Specifically, Bill 606, lays out penalties for taking photos and video of a child without parental consent and in a harassing manner. Actress Halle Berry spearheaded this issue and she was supported by many in the acting community like Jennifer Garner. In response to Governor Jerry Brown signing the bill, Berry said, “I started this fight with a great deal of hope and a bit of uncertainty so I cannot express my immense gratitude that Gov. Brown has recognized, and acted to remedy, the plight of children who are tormented because of the identity or prominence of their parents.” In April, Berry had a run in with a number of the paparazzi, screaming at them to stop taking pictures of her family.
Two points need to be made regarding this legislation. 1) famous people, while the property of the public, should indeed have a right to privacy particularly when out with their children. The paparazzi are nothing more than the equivalent of ambulance chasers who make a living by stalking and harassing the rich and famous. 2) the law must be implemented properly. It should only apply to the paparazzi. If a civilian happens to be walking down the street and sees an actor with his or her child and snaps a photograph, that should be Constitutionally protected free speech. He or she might not like it, but they can not and should not be above the law. When signing up for fame and fortune, one must take the bad with the good. The Motion Picture Association of America for its part, was among several groups that opposed the legislation, saying it infringes upon free speech protections.
Senator Kevin de Leon, who introduced the bill said, “Kids shouldn’t be tabloid fodder,” adding that the new law “will give children, no matter who their parents are, protection from harassers who go to extremes to turn a buck”. The law goes into effect in January. Those breaking it, could receive between 10 days and one year in jail, as well as a fine of up to $10,000.