A new California law toughens fines and jail time for paparazzi who harass children. But some groups say the law is too broad and could hurt more legitimate news gathering.
Paparazzi and parents are an increasingly volatile mix in Hollywood, with actresses such as Jennifer Garner and Halle Berry asking lawmakers to do something to protect their children from aggressive celebrity photographers. California Gov. Jerry Brown responded Tuesday by signing legislation that would raise fines and jail time to the maximum threshold for a misdemeanor – up to a year in jail and $10,000 for a first offense.
But the law is opposed by more than the celebrity-hungry shutterbugs. The Motion Picture Association of America and the California Newspaper Publishers Association have joined legal analysts and reporters concerned that the law may be overly broad and interfere with legitimate news gathering and other legal activities.
“I expect this law to be challenged the first time prosecutors take a photographer to court,” says Lou Virelli, a constitutional law professor at Stetson University in central Florida.