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When a paparazzo died while attempting to catch a shot of Justin Bieber’s ferarri in Calif. last month, Bieber and other stars called for tighter restrictions around the rights of paparazzi and safety of celebrities. Now, a new bill championed by Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler aims to do just that–in Hawaii.
Tyler, who owns a home in Maui, will today testify in favor of a proposal dubbed “The Steven Tyler Act.” His in-person testimony is accompanied by letters from stars like Britney Spears, the Osbournes and Neil Diamond, who positioned increased celebrity privacy as an economic benefit: “Providing a remedy to the often-egregious acts of the paparazzi is a very notable incentive to purchase property or vacation on the islands.” The letters, which all had the same content, continued: “Not only would this help the local economy, but it would also help ensure the safety of the general public, which can be threatened by crowds of cameramen or dangerous high-speed car chases.”
According to the Daily News, if passed, the bill ”would open up photographers, videographers and distributors to civil lawsuits if they take, sell or disseminate photos or videos of someone during private or family moments ‘in a manner that is offensive to a reasonable person.’ ”
But opposers of the bill, which include the The National Press Photographers Association and the American Civil Liberties Union, argue that it’s unconstitutional because the bill limits freedoms protected by the First Amendment.
An editorial in the Honolulu Star-Advertiser called lawmakers in support of the bill “star-struck.”
More than 66 percent of the senators support the bill, which was introduced by Sen. Kalani English at the behest of Tyler.
Prachi Gupta is an Assistant News Editor for Salon, focusing on pop culture. Follow her on Twitter at @prachigu or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.More Prachi Gupta.