NPPA Leads Objections To Hawaii's "Steven Tyler Act"

Feb 6, 2013 Advocacy

DURHAM, NC (February 6, 2013) – On behalf of a coalition of organizations, NPPA's lawyer today voiced strong opposition to Hawaiian state Sen. Kalani English's proposed bill, the "Steven Tyler Act," which would pave the way for celebrities to lodge civil suits against photographers.

The bill is named after Aerosmith's frontman because the singer approached Sen. English and complained about paparazzi in boats using telephoto lenses to photograph him at his $4.8 million dollar Hawaiian vacation home. In January, Tyler was reportedly upset after "unflattering" photographs of him snorkeling in snug-fitting shorts appeared online. After that, Tyler volunteered to "be the face" of the legislation.

"The bill as drafted tramples upon the First Amendment rights of citizens and journalists," NPPA general counsel Mickey H. Osterreicher wrote to English. "We believe the creation of a civil cause of action for 'constructive invasion of privacy' is overly broad and vague and imposes greater civil penalties upon otherwise protected forms of speech and expression."

If passed, the bill would mean that photographers taking pictures of celebrities in Hawaii could be found guilty of invasion of privacy, and opens the door for celebrities to sue photographers for the money they've made from their pictures.

Eighteen of Hawaii's 25 senators have signed on to the bill, which was modeled in part after California legislation.

The proposed bill states, "In honor of Steven Tyler’s contribution to the arts in Hawaii and throughout the world, this Act shall be known as the Steven Tyler Act.”

NPPA voiced the complaint on behalf of the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press; the American Society of Media Photographers; the American Society of News Editors; the Associated Press Media Editors; the Society of Professional Journalists; the Bay Area News Group; the Association of Alternative Media; the Radio Television Digital News Association; the North Jersey Media Group; Raycom Media Inc.; KHNI/KGMB, LLC; the Media Law Resource Center; the Newspaper Association of America; and the Lin Television Corporation, KHON-TV.