Anti-Paparazzi Legislation and On-line Attacks

"If the ethical and moral codes of conduct are not working, the laws and authorities should take a more active approach to ensure the privacy of public figures."

The above statements was expressed by a photojournalist who feels that the best way to stop the paparazzi, is by law. Although Hollywood has been pressing for a privacy law for some years, it was not until the death of Princess Diana in 1997 that a concerted effort was made to push it through. Here is a timeline of those efforts:

SEPTEMBER 1996 George Clooney lead a boycott against Entertainment Tonight and Hard Copy because of the latter's use of paparazzi footage of him and his girlfriend. Clooney has charged that the tabloid media has failed to take its "share" of the responsibility for the death of Princess Diana. Many celebrities have approached him because of his previous fight, to hold a Press Conference. These celebrities included Madonna, Tom Cruise, Nicole Kidman, Robert DeNiro, and Whoopi Goldberg. Paparazzi refused to shoot pictures of George Clooney at the opening of "The Peacemaker" in New York, standing together quietly to protest the actor's criticism of photographers who chase stars.
AUGUST 1997 Steve Coz, editor if the National Enquirer, urges all media to join the them in boycotting publications that publishes photos of Diana's fatal accident.
SEPTEMBER 1997 State Senator Charles M.Calderon proposes to establish a 15-foot "bubble zone between photographers and their subjects. The idea was taken form similar restrictions imposed on anti-abortion protestors outside abortion clinics. The U.S. Supreme Court declares buffer zones to be unconstitutional. Certain justices claim they constitute an overbroad attempt at restricting free speech.
FEBRUARY 1998 Sharon Stone and Richard Dreyfuss were among the stars who helped Senator Dianne Feinstein and a team of lawyers draft the Personal Privacy Bill to beintroduced in the Senate. The bill, which was presented at a news conference at the Screen Actors Guild offices, would preserve the right to photograph celebrities in public and sell the film, but crack down on actions that could jeopardize their safety.

It forbids "persistent chasing or following" which would be a crime punishable by up to a year in prison, at least five years if bodily harm resulted and 20 years if a death occurred. It also updates the definition of trespassing to including zoom lenses, a provision intended to stop photographers from peering into bedrooms and gardens.

OCTOBER 1998 California Governor Pete Wilson signs a bill forbidding "constructive trespassing." The bill defines invasion of privacy as trespassing with the intent to capture audio or video of a public figure while engaged in a personal activity. It allows that victim to recover damages form not only the paparazzi, but also the news organization that use their services. The law has been opposed by the media, which views it as an infringement on their right to gather news
JANUARY 1999 Hollywood stars celebrate the introduction of a strict new law that they hope will protect them from photographers known as paparazzi. The law prohibits the filming or recording of anyone "engaging in personal or family activity in circumstances where they had a reasonable expectation of privacy." Photographers can also be charged if the subject feels "in physical jeopardy."
THE PAPARAZZI STOPPER On March 24, 1998, the "Paparazzi Stopper" made its debut at the Invention Convention in Los Angeles. Philadelphia scientist Joseph Resnick invented the miniature electronic device that contains sensors and transmitters which cause interference between the photographer and subject, resulting in complete absence of images on film negatives. It is triggered by a photographic flash and can be clipped on to a baseball cap, necklace orlapel of a jacket. It is listed at $500.
PAPARAZZI PICTURES A website that gives surfers the opportunity to voice their opinion about the paparazzi. Included is a link of example photos.Since Diana's death, there have been numerous web pages designed for "paparazzi bashing."