On September 30th, Schwarzenegger, himself an actor and sometime victim of paparazzi misbehavior, signed into law a bill designed to punish errant photographers for assaults and altercations caused by their attempts to photograph celebrities.
The new law triples the damages that can be awarded to a celebrity, and denies photographers the right to profit from photographs taken during altercations.
The new law raises some important constitutional first amendment questions, but answers won't come until there's a legal challenge to the new law's application.
Prior to passage of this law, criminal and civil penalties were available, so some may question the real need for the changes. However, Assemblywoman Cindy Montanez, the bill's sponsor, argues that the only way to reduce the incidence of paparazzi assaults and altercations is to remove the economic incentive for photographers to seek out provocative celebrity photos. This law attempts to do just that.
In recent months, Actresses Reese Witherspoon, Lindsay Lohan, and Scarlett Johanssen have all been involved in altercations caused by overzealous photographers. Lohan and Johanssen incidents involved traffic accidents allegedly caused by the photographers, the witherspoon incident involved the photographer's assault on amusement park employees intervening to afford Witherspoon's family some privacy.
Schwarzenegger himself has been involved in such incidents, including a 1998 incident following which he testified against the photographer. He has also publicly endorsed the idea of a “celebrity buffer zone” of privacy.