FREE SPEECH/FREE PRESS — At Oscar time the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences presents winners, also-rans and officiants with "goodie bags" of freebies worth thousands of dollars. Just as predictably, California's Democrat lawmakers—abetted by a governor of either party— annually gift Hollywood with goodie bags of special legislation, like increasing protection from paparazzi and now, even from party crashers who manage to get by the bouncers.

The June 4 edition of the Legislative Bulletin of the California Newspaper Publishers Association reports the latest examples.

The Assembly approved legislation authored by Speaker Emeritus Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles) to curb aggressive paparazzi behavior, after it was pared down to solely add false imprisonment to the list of behaviors that, combined with an attempt to capture an image or sound recording, creates extreme liability.  Until it was amended this week, the bill would also have amended the existing anti-stalking law to create a new civil cause of action for a pattern of conduct intended to place a person “under surveillance.”

AB 2479 follows Bass’ successful bill last year (AB 524) to make it easier to sue publishers and posters of illicit images and recordings.  While presenting the bill, Bass said celebrities in her district continue to be subjected to extreme paparazzi conduct, such as surrounding vehicles, climbing on vehicles and hounding celebrities and their children at schools.  She said the bill was a work in progress and that a working group including the Motion Pictures Association of America and California Broadcasters Association would explore amendments in the Senate to address the issue of surveillance of celebrities by paparazzi. 

Bass has, at least for now, decided not to move her companion bill – AB 2480 – which would add to the existing commercial misuse of another’s name or likeness tort, the use of a minor’s image obtained in violation of the anti-paparazzi law if the image is used for a commercial purpose and without the consent of a parent or guardian.  That bill has not yet been heard by a policy committee, which means it is likely dead for this year.


Another bill – AB 451 by Assemblyman Anthony Portantino (D-Pasadena) – [gutted and amended after] previously dealing with economic development, would make it a trespass to enter an event not open to the general public without authorization from the person lawfully in possession of the property, if the area has been posted so as to give reasonable notice restricting access, as specified.

The bill would make a first violation punishable by imprisonment in a county jail not exceeding 6 months, or by a fine not exceeding $1,000, and a second by that jail sentence or a fine of $2,000, or both.  This bill is sponsored by the Screen Actors Guild and is currently lodged with the Senate Rules Committee.  The bill will likely be referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee for a late June hearing.