Governor Jerry Brown has signed SB606, the bill intended to protect the children of famous people and public figures, legislation Halle Berry has made her pet project.
California state senator Kevin de León proposed the law, and Berry and Jennifer Garner both offered emotional testimony at the Senate hearing earlier this year, explaining the impact harassing photographers have had on their lives.
According to a press release from de León's office:
SB 606 Amends Penal Code Section 11414 to do the following:
· Increases the maximum jail time for harassment of a child or ward because of the person's employment from six months in the county jail to a year in the county jail.
· Impose a fine not to exceed $10,000 for a first violation.
· Increase subsequent convictions by applying a fine not to exceed $20,000 for a second violation and a fine not to exceed $30,000 for a third violation.
· Allow civil liability in an action for damages in which the parent or legal guardian of the child may seek actual damages, disgorgement of compensation, punitive damages, reasonable attorney’s fees, and costs.
· Clarify the definition of “harassment” to include conduct in the course of the actual or attempted recording of children’s images and/or voices, without express parental consent, by following their activities or lying in wait.
· Clarify that transmitting, publishing or broadcasting a child’s image and/or voice does not constitute a violation.
This law applies to celebrities, but also politicians, police officers, judges and the like. How the hell this is going to be enforced is a mystery; do celebs always know when a paparazzo is lying in wait? And if a photographer is hiding, and stealthily snaps images without a parent's consent — and then flees the scene — how are charges pressed? Plus, since the paparazzi often travel in packs, hitting popular spots, hanging outside shopping centers like The Grove or the Hollywood pumpkin patch, can you call the cops on all of them? Many photographers who shoot in public places point out that they are within their rights to do so; De Leon's office says the bill does not infringe on First Amendment rights because it targets the photographer's conduct, not the act of taking a photograph. But celebrity babies are big money at newsstands — thanks to public demand —and there are photographers who make their living supplying those photos. It will be interesting to see whether they will even attempt to comply.
In any case, Halle Berry is thrilled, saying in a statement:
On behalf of my children, it is my hope that this is the beginning of the end for those overly aggressive paparazzi whose outrageous conduct has caused so much trauma and emotional distress.