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Senators to debate celeb privacy bill

February 6, 2013
The Associated Press

HONOLULU (AP) - Hawaii senators are set to consider whether the state should prevent paparazzi from stalking celebrities who vacation in Hawaii.

A Senate committee plans to consider the so-called Steven Tyler Act on Friday.

The bill is named for the Aerosmith singer because he recently bought a home on Maui, and the lawmaker who wrote it says Tyler requested the legislation.

Sen. J. Kalani English, a Democrat from Maui, says he hopes enacting the measure will encourage more celebrities to come to Hawaii.

The bill gives public figures the right to collect civil damages from people who take photos or videos of them in an offensive way during their private lives. The initiative has initial support from more than two-thirds of the state Senate.

Hawaii media lawyer Jeff Portnoy says it is embarrassing and potentially unconstitutional.

The bill would open people up to 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.

It does not specify places where pictures would be OK or whether public places would be exempt. The bill 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.

Like other destinations, the islands have a steady stream of high-profile visitors. President Barack Obama vacations on Oahu once a year with his family, Oprah Winfrey has property here, and photos of celebrities at the beach are fixtures in tabloids and magazines.



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