Published Friday, February 08, 2013
BY ANITA HOFSCHNEIDER
HONOLULU (AP) – Rock stars Steven Tyler and Mick Fleetwood appeared Friday at a Hawaii legislative hearing to push a bill aimed at protecting celebrities' privacy.
The so-called Steven Tyler Act would give celebrities or anyone else the power to sue paparazzi who take photos or video of their private lives in an offensive way.
Tyler says he had his manager draft the bill and requested that Sen. Kalani English introduce it on his behalf.
The former "American Idol" judge recently bought a multi-million dollar home in English's district on Maui.
"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 a day ahead of the hearing. "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 two-thirds of the state Senate co-sponsored the measure. Britney Spears and Avril Lavigne are among more than a dozen celebrities who submitted testimony supporting the bill along with the Aerosmith and Fleetwood Mac rockers.
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.
National media organizations oppose the measure and say the law would infringe on constitutional rights.
The National Press Photographers Association said the bill is "well-meaning but ill-conceived."
The New York-based organization represents numerous national media organizations, 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, saying it could make it harder to police movie piracy.
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.
Hawaii's Senate Judiciary Committee hearing marks the first time lawmakers will discuss the bill publicly. English has said the bill is not intended to limit beach photos.
The state's largest newspaper, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, published an editorial Thursday that called lawmakers who support the bill "star-struck."
The newspaper said the bill might not affect only journalists.
"It could also make lawbreakers out of anyone taking photographs in public places, be it an ordinary photojournalist or someone with a camera phone," the editorial said.
Anita Hofschneider can be reached at http://twitter.com/ahofschneider
Text of bill: http://1.usa.gov/YfbJqi
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