FILE- In this June 10, 2009 file photo, vocalist Steven Tyler, of the rock band Aerosmith, performs at the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater in Maryland Heights, Mo. Tyler plans to attend a legislative hearing in Hawaii on Friday, Feb. 8, 2013, on a bill that bears his name and would limit people's freedom to take photos and video of celebrities. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson, File)
Thursday, February 07, 2013 10:56 pm
APNewsBreak: Tyler to testify on HI celeb privacy
By ANITA HOFSCHNEIDERAssociated Press
Hawaii's Senate Judiciary Committee plans to consider the so-called Steven Tyler Act on Friday morning, the first time lawmakers will discuss the bill publicly.
A publicist for the former "American Idol" judge told The Associated Press on Thursday that Tyler submitted written testimony supporting the proposal, which would allow people to collect damages from someone who photographs them in an offensive way during their personal or family time.
More than a dozen celebrities have submitted testimony supporting the bill, including Britney Spears, Avril Lavigne, Neil Diamond, Tommy Lee and the Osborne family. The letters all included the same text.
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.
"Providing a remedy to the often-egregious acts of the paparazzi is a very notable incentive to purchase property or vacation on the islands," the stars said. "Not only would this help the local economy, but it would also help ensure the safety of the general public, which can be threatened by crowds of cameramen or dangerous high-speed car chases."
Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie says he supports the intent of the bill but says it may need to be refined. He says the state attorney general will testify about legal concerns concerning the bill's language.
Sen. Kalani English, from Maui, says he introduced the bill at the request of Tyler, who owns a multimillion-dollar home in Maui. More than two-thirds of the state's senators have co-sponsored the bill.
English says the bill will spur celebrity tourism to the islands, boosting Hawaii's economy.
Opponents say the bill could be unconstitutional.
Laurie Temple, an attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union, said Thursday the bill would punish freedoms of expression protected by the First Amendment.
She said lawmakers should support better enforcement of current stalking laws rather than passing new legislation.
The National Press Photographers Association said the bill is "well-meaning but ill-conceived" and tramples on constitutional rights.
The New York-based organization represents numerous national media organizations with its letter, 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.
Among other objections, the association says the bill could make it harder to police movie piracy, because there's no exemption for law enforcement who might want to take photos or video of people they're investigating.
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.
English says the bill is not intended to limit beach photos. But he says Tyler has had paparazzi hide in his bushes to take photos of him inside his house.
Photos of vacationing stars in swimsuits have long been a fixture in tabloids and celebrity magazines.
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.