Steven Tyler gets OK on celebrity photo privacy bill
The Associated Press
Published Friday, February 8, 2013 5:36PM EST
HONOLULU -- Rock legends Steven Tyler and Mick Fleetwood convinced a Hawaii Senate committee on Friday to approve a bill to protect celebrities or anyone else from intrusive paparazzi.
The state Senate Judiciary Committee approved the so-called Steven Tyler Act after the stars testified.
The bill would give people power to sue others who take photos or video of their private lives in an offensive way.
Tyler said he asked state Sen. Kalani English to introduce the measure after paparazzi took a photo of the Aerosmith frontman and his girlfriend in his home, causing a ripple in his family.
The former "American Idol" judge said his kids don't want to go out with him in Hawaii because of the threat of paparazzi.
Opponents say the bill limits constitutional rights.
"The paradise of Hawaii is a magnet for celebrities who just want a peaceful vacation," Tyler said in a statement emailed to The Associated Press. "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."
More than a dozen celebrities submitted testimony supporting the bill, including Britney Spears, Avril Lavigne, Neil Diamond, Tommy Lee and the Osborne family. The letters all included the same text.
The stars say paparazzi have made simple activities like cooking with family and sunbathing elusive luxuries, and the bill would give them peace of mind.
"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," the stars said.
Tyler owns a multimillion-dollar home in Maui. Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie has said he supports the intent of the bill but said it may need to be refined.
The bill will spur celebrity tourism to the islands, boosting Hawaii's economy, English said.
Opponents say the bill could be unconstitutional. Laurie Temple, an attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union, said the bill would punish freedoms of expression protected by the First Amendment.
She said lawmakers should support better enforcement of current stalking laws rather than passing new legislation.
The National Press Photographers Association said the bill is "well-meaning but ill-conceived" and tramples on constitutional rights. The New York-based organization represents numerous 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 Motion Picture Association of America also opposes the bill.
The bill would open up photographers, videographers and distributors to 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."
The bill doesn't specify whether public places, like Hawaii's beaches, would be exempt. The bill says it would apply to people who take photos from boats or anywhere else within ocean waters.
English said the bill is not intended to limit beach photos. But he said Tyler has had paparazzi hide in his bushes to take photos of him inside his house.
Photos of vacationing stars in swimsuits have long been a fixture in tabloids and celebrity magazines.