California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has signed a new bill into law that will fine paparazzi photographers for taking pictures that invade a celebrity’s right to privacy.
The new California law makes it a crime to take and sell unauthorized photos of celebrities in “personal or familial activity,” and also targets media outlets that purchase those photos, with violators facing fines of up to $50,000. The law is slated to take effect in January. Last summer, as part of the Los Angeles Police Department’s more aggressive crackdown on the practice, two paparazzi photographers were arrested for staking out Britney Spear’s Hollywood home. Earlier that year, four paparazzi were arrested by the LAPD on suspicion of reckless driving after they followed Spears on a street in the San Fernando Valley, with police alleging that at least one had tried to run the singer off the road, seemingly in an attempt to get a prized picture of her in distress. In 2005, Schwarzenegger, who once testified against two photographers who used their cars to surround him when he was picking his kids up from school in 1998, before he was governor, signed a bill that tripled damage celebrities could seek from paparazzi if they were assaulted during a shoot. That move was inspired by incidents involving Lindsay Lohan and Scarlett Johansson, who were both involved in car accidents as a result of being chased by snappers, as well as Reese Witherspoon, who was confronted by an aggressive shooter while at a Disney theme park with her children.