A bill would increase punishment for paparazzi who engage in car chases to get shots of stars or invade celebrities' privacy has passed the state legislature and will be on Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's desk Wednesday for his signature.
Although there are already laws against reckless driving and trespassing, California is likely to see one of the nation's if not the world's most stringent laws aimed specifically at celeb-focused photogs if the governor signs AB 2479 this week.
The bill would add a misdemeanor charge to paparazzo stopped on suspicion of reckless driving when a celebrity pursuit is in play. Extra penalties would be piled on if it is determined that children have been endangered as a result.
Trespassing paparazzo or those who invade a celeb's privacy to obtain a good shot will face triple the normal penalties and up to three times the damages they would have faced before the bill pased.
We're not big fans of shooters on road bikes who endanger lives in order to get closer to Lindsay Lohan, but we don't think more restrictions on the freedom of the press — even this kind of press — is the answer. After all, under whose authority can the government distinguish between paparazzi and legitimate photographers?
The mere idea of having politicians or lawmen determining who can be slapped with paparazzi penalties and who can't is kind of scary, if you ask us. What if a Los Angeles Times photographer gets caught up in a pack that's following Lindsay Lohan out of a courtroom? You see where we're going with this. It's not entirely right.
Of course, local Assemblywoman Karen Bass is all for it. She wrote it:
“Paparazzi today employ more aggressive and unsafe tactics — endangering not just the celebrities, but anyone standing between them and their target,'' said Bass. ” … AB 2479 is a preventative measure aimed at putting a stop to practices that will only end in tragedy.''