February 12, 2008
Posted: 11:00 AM ET
NEW YORK – The paparazzi covering the spectacle that is Britney Spears in Los Angeles are now the target of a proposed new law. The measure introduced by Los Angeles City Councilman Dennis Zine calls for a personal safety zone around individuals targeted by the media.
Britney Spears is swarmed by media.
The so-called "Britney Law" is said to be aimed at protecting celebrities, as well as pedestrians and drivers, who may be put in danger by a horde of photographers. It comes in the wake of Spears' recent trip to a psychiatric hospital in which police enlisted several vehicles and a helicopter to escort her ambulance and shield her from a crowd of photographers. It ended up costing taxpayers some $25,000.
While supported by the Screen Actor's Guild, many in the press including The Greater Los Angeles Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists are concerned about their First Amendment rights and believe it could lead to abuses involving legitimate access to newsmakers.
Police Chief William J. Bratton believes the laws already on the books are enough. California has had an "anti-stalkerazzi" law since 1998 that allows celebrities to sue anyone who invades their privacy. And two years ago the state created a law that imposed increased liability penalties on photographers who impede celebrities or are responsible for car accidents.
While it's highly unlikely many will shed tears for the fate of the paparazzi, who along with magazine publishers and lawyers are raking in millions on the Britney story, more debate is necessary as to whether this proposed measure is necessary.
– Bob Regan, In Session senior executive producer
Filed under: First Amendment
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