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The Legality Behind Paparazzi Pics

TMZ’s a guilty pleasure for many American’s wanting to know what’s going on in the world of celebrities. But for others it wasn’t that long ago that they would remember news reports from the UK about Princess Diana’s death, and how her life was tragically cut short because of the paparazzi’s need for a picture. Therein lies the tension between photog’s clamoring for the juicy picture they know the world will want to see, and the famous people who have their privacy invaded, and lives severely disrupted.

Who’s the Victim?

Over the last few years there has been buzz about celebrity’s that have sued magazines, and paparazzi who in turn sued celebrities. A recent New York Times article is a reminder of one of the world’s largest multimedia conglomerates, News of the World, and their phone hacking scandal that reached both sides of the pond, affecting celebrities in Britain as well as the US. But the paparazzi have had their share of unfair treatment as well. So who is really the victim here?

Mike Tyson TKO’ed

A 2010 PopEater article talks about Mike Tyson getting sued by a paparazzi photographer for $25 million. According to the report, an altercation at LAX resulted in the photographer receiving injuries to:

• His face.
• Spine.
• Neck.
• Brain.

The Huffington post points out that Tyson alleged the paparazzi photographer, Antonio Echevarria, “aggressively pursed” him and his family through the airport. However, there were no physical injuries or marks on Tyson, and Tyson had been quoted as threatening to kill Echevarria.

Sean Penn’s Paparazzi Vandalism

TMZ reported about Sean Penn’s “no contest plea” to a 2010 incident in which Penn kicked a photographer, who filed a civil lawsuit alleging a knee injury. It settled a little over a year later with an undisclosed monetary amount and Penn facing:

• 36 Months of probation.
• 300 Hours of mandatory community service.

Celebrities Who Have Been Injured

Part of the reason celebrities fight back isn’t just because their privacy is being assaulted, but often so isn’t their safety. Nicole Richie had to be taken to a hospital after a 2009 car accident that was caused when paparazzi following her rear-ended the car she was in. Brad Pitt was rear-ended by a photographer trying to snap his picture while he was riding a motorcycle. Other celebrities that have runs in with the paparazzi include:

• Madonna getting knocked in the face while carrying her baby.
• Jessica Simpson and her friend got smacked in the face.
• Rihanna knocked by a London photog.

What’s the Law?

Although celebrities are affected wherever they go, California is a definite hot spot for celeb-paparazzi battles. In 2009, celebrity, Governor Schwarzenegger offered legal help to his Hollywood pals by passing an anti-paparazzi law. What does this mean?

• Photos and their earnings may have to be forfeited.
• Fines for cameramen.
• Lawsuits for media outlets that publish illegal photos.

The battle between the famous and those who take their picture will not be going away anytime soon. And with increased injuries, and even deaths the likelihood is that there will be an increase in legislation as well.

You can follow us on Twitter @moviebuffs and on Facebook as well.

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