Tuesday, October 1, 2013

New Calif. Law Makes Stars' Kids Off-LImits

English: Halle Berry in Beverly Hills, Califor...
 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
California Gov. Jerry Brown last week signed into law Senate Bill 606, amending Chapter 348, Sec. 11414 of the Penal Code, that, in some cases, criminalizes photographing the offspring of celebrities.

The measure, which takes effect January 1, 2014, has drawn fire from news media organizations and free press advocates who argue SB 606 infringes on First Amendment rights through its vague wording and definition of terms such as harassment and reasonable child, and by restricting the photographing of individuals in the public arena where they lack a reasonable expectation of privacy.

Under the bill, which was introduced by Los Angeles Democratic Sen. Kevin de Leon, minors under age 16 who are children of celebrities are protected against individuals who intentionally harass a person's child "because of that person's employment." The law defines harassment as intentional conduct that "seriously alarms, annoys, torments or terrorizes" the minor and "serves no legitimate purpose." Encompassed within the definition is "conduct occurring during the course of any actual or attempted recording" of the child's image or voice by following the youth without parental permission.

First offenders face a maximum $10,000 fine and up to a year in jail. A second violation carries a five-day jail sentence and a maximum $20,000 fine, while a three-time loser under the act could receive a 30-day jail term and be socked with a $30,000 fine. Photographers prosecuted under the law also are exposed to civil liability from the parent or guardian of the minor, that could include punitive damages.

Famous Hollywood moms have backed the law, including Jennifer Garner and Halle Berry, the latter of whom testified before the Senate's Public Safety Committee.  California already boasts a strong anti-paparazzi law [Calif. Civ. Code Sec. 1708-1725] (see "TUOL" post 10/15/09).

Taking the image of the star child is a criminal offense under the new law, but distributing images of the celebrities' kids is not against the law.

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