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Most isle senators back anti-paparazzi 'Steven Tyler Act'

By Anita Hofschneider

Associated Press


Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

More than two-thirds of Hawaii's state senators have signed onto a bill to protect celebrities from paparazzi, giving them power to sue over unwanted beach photos and other snapshots on the islands.

And the bill's author says he's pushing the law at the request of Aerosmith lead singer Steven Tyler, the former "American Idol" judge who recently bought a new home in Maui.

A representative for Aerosmith declined comment late Thursday night, saying Tyler was not immediately available.

Sen. Kalani English said the so-called "Steven Tyler Act" will help Hawaii's tourism and film industries, encouraging famous people to come here without fear of being stalked by paparazzi.

"These are my constituents as well," English (D, East Maui-Upcountry-Molokai-Lanai) said. "Public figures have a right to reasonable privacy. There's a balance that we need to create."

The bill would open people up to civil lawsuits if they invade the privacy of public figures by taking or selling photos or videos. It defines invasion of privacy as capturing or trying to capture images or sound of people "in a manner that is offensive to a reasonable person" during personal or family moments.

The bill does not specify places where pictures would be OK or whether public places would be exempt. It says it would apply to people who take photos from boats or anywhere else within ocean waters.

"Although their celebrity status may justify a lower expectation of privacy, the Legislature finds that sometimes the paparazzi go too far to disturb the peace and tranquility afforded celebrities who escape to Hawaii for a quiet life," English wrote in the bill.

Longtime Hawaii media lawyer Jeff Portnoy said the legislation is vague and panders to celebrities.

"It's unnecessary, it's potentially unconstitutional and it flies in the face of decades of privacy law," he said.

He said it is difficult to know how the court would interpret the state constitutional provision for the right to privacy in terms of this bill, but that based upon privacy-related court precedents, the law would be unnecessary.

The bill has only been introduced and referred to committee; lawmakers have not yet set a date to discuss it. While 18 of 25 of the state's senators have signed on, including the Senate majority leader, it's unclear whether the bill would stand a chance in the state House.

Hawaii House Majority Leader Scott Saiki said he supports the idea of protecting celebrities' privacy but thinks the bill should be more specific.

"‘In a manner that is offensive to a reasonable person' — what does that mean?" Saiki said.

He said he thinks the bill needs substantial amendments to make sure it's enforceable.

English said he believes the bill is constitutional. He said the state has a provision in its constitution to protect the right to privacy.

"Generally, we've respected people's privacy, but we have a different time now," English said.

Like other destinations, Hawaii has a steady stream of high-profile visitors. President Barack Obama vacations on Oahu once a year with his family, while Lance Armstrong escaped to the Big Island last month after a tell-all interview with Oprah Winfrey at his home in Texas.

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LittleEarl_01 wrote:
Please someone tell me that our elected officials are not wasting their time and our tax dollars on this so called "Steven Tyler Act", when there are far more important items to be discussed and handled for the taxpayers of this State.
on February 2,2013 | 03:18AM
false wrote:
This is an "act" to protect the privacy of all. It used to be that anyone could come to Hawaii and not have to be on "show" because we used to value "humility". We've acculturated to "arrogance" and "strutting" is a value to celebrate. Toning down the behavior of intrusive individuals is a good thing.
on February 2,2013 | 04:18AM
bender wrote:
The ones doing the strutting and demanding are the visiting celebreties.
on February 2,2013 | 11:39AM
Hank13 wrote:
These celebrities are the same people who at one time relied on "intrusive" photos to further their careers. They still may need photos to boost, if not attempt to restart their "past glory". Unenforceable and a big waste of time. This is how senators become their own paparazzi. Introduce ridiculous bills to get their names plastered in the paper. Sen. English, can your body be any worse than Steve Tyler's that you don't want to be photographed.
on February 2,2013 | 06:57AM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
Hank nails it. The Ancient Ex-Druggie Rock and Roller Act.
on February 2,2013 | 07:34AM
false wrote:
Who cares about the celebs. Ignore the whole lot of them and keep the ppzzz off the rocks.
on February 2,2013 | 09:54AM
Bdpapa wrote:
That's right Hank, they are wasyting our time and our money.
on February 2,2013 | 10:55AM
Anonymous wrote:
Once again, our legislators are wasting time trying to pass unconstitutional laws, this time for celebrities, while simultaneously figuring out ways to make life more expensive for the people who live here.

I don't support paparazzi. I think they're rude and intrusive, BUT the law is very clear and protected by the United States Constitution. These are public figures, in public, where no one has a reasonable expectation of privacy.

If our legislators are focusing on this Hollywood celebrity nonsense, maybe they will have less time to figure out how to charge for things they don't procedure like fruit juice and paper bags, but they will get the state sued by photographers who will rightfully claim that their 1st amendment rights are violated. Banning reporters for taking and publishing photos of celebrities is state sponsored censorship and is unquestionably unconstitutionall. Usually when our legislators start something like this, they only make us a national laughing stock for a couple of months, but this time, they are setting up state taxpayers for a series of expensive lawsuits that that we taxpayers will most certainly lose.
on February 2,2013 | 07:07AM
Kalaheo1 wrote:
I don't know why that showed up as anonymous... that's me, Kalaheo1.
on February 2,2013 | 08:12AM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
I like the Anonymous guy better. He makes really good comments.
on February 2,2013 | 01:16PM
Anonymous wrote:
on February 2,2013 | 04:14PM
AmbienDaze wrote:
when you don't log in, everybody's comments are "Anonymous" it happened to me a couple of time..
on February 2,2013 | 08:15PM
kiheilocal wrote:
If Tyler wants his privacy so bad I dont understand why he bought a house right next to, within yards of one of the most visited snorkel sites on Maui, where he blasts his music so everyone can hear and then hangs out at little beach drumming in the drum circles during the Sunday drum sessions.. He doesnt really blend in Longs when hes running thru it in all his finery,hyped up. Maybe he needs to look at his part a bit.
on February 2,2013 | 10:34AM
serious wrote:
Waste of time. Why don't they give a solid resolution to our DC legislators to get HI off the Jones Act and also get a state lottery--do something!!!!!!
on February 2,2013 | 11:05AM
soshaljustic wrote:
Too bad so sad. You in public, You have a right to expect NO PRIVACY! Guess what celebs and senators both, you have no special privileges that the standard taxpayer does not have! Stop expecting special privileges that the taxpayer does not have! Being in PUBLIC is noted for its OPENNESS and non-private situation. That is why it is the PUBLIC DOMAIN. If the lawmakers and celebs want privacy, stay behind closed doors! Hawaii is a PUBLIC arena as a state! Before being stolen in colonization, it was a private concern and monarchy, as a Hawaiian owned and occupied land mass. If the senators are planning a cessation from the union in conjunction with certain celebs please let all parties of government know as the taxpayers of Hawaii own Hawaii sooner and before a small concern of elitist celebs and snobby senators own Hawaii. Please celebs and senators do us all a favor and crawl back under your collective private rocks from whence you came.
on February 2,2013 | 11:38AM
bender wrote:
I would like to ask Sen. English since when Steven Tyler became a constituent. I think the senator is in awe of Tyler, and Tyler probably made him feel important by asking for this consideration. I'm sure English thinks Tyler will invite him over. I for one could care less if celebreties come to town. Their egos tell them they are more important than they really are.
on February 2,2013 | 11:38AM
Maneki_Neko wrote:
Tyler once saw Kalani and said "Dude looks like a lady." Ever since there has been a kind of special attachment between the two.
on February 2,2013 | 01:17PM
LanaUlulani wrote:
How stupid to waste taxpayer dollars on this frivolity.
on February 2,2013 | 01:33PM
daniwitz13 wrote:
A celeb comes to town and wants everyone to bow, curtsy and genuflect to him? He should be no different than other celebs that have come here. The paparazzi is an occupation. A legitimate legal job. They provide entities with stories for people with that interest to read about. It provide jobs for people to copy and print material for the reading public. It is a double edge sword for celebs to want notoriety and want TOTAL privacy. No one really has total privacy. If one wants privacy, THEY will have to take the effort to conceal themselves, not demand that the public refrain from using the freedom and Right to look at or take a photo of anything they want. At this rate, even Google earth will be sued. Pity.
on February 2,2013 | 01:43PM
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