Hawaii Senate Passes Steven Tyler Act On Privacy, But Opposition Continues

Just over a month after it was proposed, the Hawaii state Senate has passed the so-called Steven Tyler Act, a bill intended to protect celebrities from paparazzi when they take unwanted photographs or videos of others in private moments.

Proposed by Steven Tyler, the flamboyant frontman of Aerosmith, the Steven Tyler Act, formally known as SB465, officially creates a civil cause for action for the “constructive invasion of privacy.”

If enacted, celebrities will be able to sue a paparazzo or similar offender “if the person captures or intends to capture, in a manner that is offensive to a reasonable person, through any means a visual image, sound recording, or other physical impression of another person while that person is engaging in a personal or familial activity with a reasonable expectation of privacy.”

Tyler previously asked Senator Kalani English to sponsor the legislation after invasive photographs were taken of him and his girlfriend last December and published in a national magazine. Tyler owns a home in Maui, which is located in English’s district. Sen. English said he agreed to the proposal because it could help boost celebrity tourism in Hawaii.

Twenty-three of the state’s 25 Senate members voted in favor of the bill, which now makes it way to the House for consideration. Senator Sam Slom, the only Republican in the House, opposed the measure. Democrat Sen. Les Ihara also voted against it.

“We have been the butt of many editorials and jokes across the country for this proposed legislation,” Slom said, adding that Hawaii already had adequate laws protecting privacy and that the proposal was an attack on First Amendment rights.

“My final remarks to Steven Tyler as he sang so eloquently are, ‘Dream on, dream on,’ ” Slom joked, said The Associated Press.

E! reports, during a hearing with Hawaii’s state Senate Judiciary Committee last month, Tyler said that getting photographed is part of the “dealio” that comes with fame.

At the time, he added:

“When I’m in my own home and I’m taking a shower or changing clothes or eating or spending Christmas with my children, and I see paparazzi a mile away, shooting at me with lenses this long, and then seeing that very picture in People magazine, you know, it hurts…That’s what they do, they are just constantly taking from us.”

Tyler efforts to get the Steven Tyler Act passed were supported by celebrities such as Britney Spears, Mick Fleetwood, and the Osborne family, all of whom said paparazzi attention made it difficult to enjoy simple activities with family and friends.

However, some think the proposal will negatively impact freedom of the press. The National Press Photographers Association and the Society of Professional Journalists submitted testimony opposing the bill.

The Senate Judiciary Committee responded to criticism of the measure’s vague language by replacing the original version with the text of an existing California anti-paparazzi statute, AP notes.

The road ahead for the act may be still be rocky. Media lawyer Jeff Portnoy said the bill is still problematic.

“It’s better, but it doesn’t change its fatal flaws,” said Portnoy. “The measure’s language is still ambiguous and it is unnecessary, given Hawaii’s existing laws. Our only chance to get some sanity into this is in the House.”

Do you think celebrities in Hawaii need the Steven Tyler Act to protect them from the attentions of paparazzi, or do think it infringes on the freedom of the press?

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