December 31, 2009

Aniston named as force behind paparazzi law

Jennifer Aniston is said to be the force behind a new law that puts a check on the paparazzi in 2010 and beyond.

Democrat and Assembly Speaker Karen Bass said the former Friends star was instrumental in pushing the legislation that comes into effect from the January 1, 2010.

According to the new law, members of the paparazzi and media outlets that sell and buy unlawfully taken photos and video footage of people, including celebs and their families, will be charged with civil penalties.

"There have to be some boundaries. When you have children in the car and the photographers are rushing you, its just absolutely out of control," Contactmusic quoted Aniston, as telling the Los Angeles Times.

"Its become a public safety issue. Somebodys going to die if we dont do something," she added.

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed Assembly Bill 524 into law in October this year.

December 30, 2009

NYPD Press Pass Extension

The NYPD has apparently backed away from the idea of getting out of the press credentials business.

All working press passes that were due to expire in January will automatically be extended to July 15 while the NYPD transitions to a biannual system.

"We want to be able to issue press cards that are good for two years," said Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne. Currently, the cards have to be renewed every year.

Each year, the department issues about 2,500 working press passes, which allow reporters to cross police and fire lines that the general public can't. They also are used to secure the coveted NYP plates issued by state motor vehicle de partments.

Browne said he could not just jettison the one- year passes because it is part of the NYC administrative code and requires public input.

The Malibu Times: New year laws include anti-paparazzi statute

The year 2010 kicks off with several new state laws that go into effect Jan. 1, including anti-paparazzi legislation that will affect media outlets and publishers.

Perhaps the most pertinent to Malibu, however, is the new law that will allow civil lawsuits to be filed against any media outlet that publishes an illegally taken photo.

The law imposes fines from $5,000 to $50,000 on a publisher who causes or condones a paparazzo to engage in offensive behavior?such as persistent following, chasing or trespassing?while in pursuit of photos or video footage of celebrities. The law will heavily affect media outlets seeking first-time publication rights.

Historically, only a paparazzo who took a photo would be held accountable and the publication that published the photo would not be liable.

Supporters of the new law, which include many Malibu residents and some city officials, have long called paparazzi efforts to capture celebrity photos a threat to public safety and an invasion of privacy. But oppositionists, which include the California Newspapers Publishers Association and various celebrity gossip Web sites and TV shows, have expressed that the law does a poor job at balancing the issue with First Amendment rights.

Councilmember Pamela Conley Ulich, who earlier this year said many of her friends whose children attend Malibu public schools have been mistaken for celebrities and harassed by paparazzi via car chase, lauds the new law.

?I think it gives an added layer of protection and gives an opportunity for anyone whose privacy is invaded to not only pursue paparazzi but publishers as well,? Conley Ulich said Tuesday in a phone interview. ?You get to go where the deep pockets are, and this will hopefully give incentive to publishers to not buy illegally obtained photographs.?

The issue received further attention through a scuffle between paparazzi and local surfers in June 2008, when a pack of photographers staked out actor Matthew McConaughey as he surfed at Little Dume Beach. Malibu residents Skylar Peak and Philip ?John? Hildebrand have each charged with one count of misdemeanor battery for their alleged involvement in the beating of French paparazzo Rachid Aitmbareck during the altercation.

December 7, 2009

The Photographer Project

December 5, 2009

Gyllenhaal 'involved in paparazzi mixup'

Maggie Gyllenhaal has said that she felt "important" when photographers "swarmed" her at a New York café.

The Dark Knight star and husband Peter Sarsgaard were reportedly surprised when "a ton" of paparazzi came into the same café in which the couple were enjoying their coffee - only to realise that the photographers were only there to spot Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes.

The 32-year-old told E! Online: "There were a ton of paparazzi in the café with their huge cameras and laptops. I was like, 'Peter, oh my God, they are so into us. They're swarming us. We are so important'.

"It turns out Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise were living on that street. It was the winter, so the photographers would go into the café to download their pictures."

December 2, 2009

Paparazzi Cry `No Fair' as N.Y.C Tightens Access to Film Shoots

 Dec. 2 (Bloomberg) -- When paparazzo Steve Sands arrived at the Coney Island set of Will Ferrell’s movie “The Other Guys” in mid-November, he caught a break. That day they were filming New York Yankee Derek Jeter in a cameo.

Sands got shots that he sold to the celebrity magazine InTouch, among other outlets, and notched what he called a handsome payday.

 A 30-year veteran of the camera ambush, Sands worries that those opportunities, gleaned from regular visits to New York City’s Mayor’s Office of Film, Theatre and Broadcasting, will disappear since New York City ended its weekly Wednesday public viewing of film-shoot permits yesterday. Mayor Michael Bloomberg is the founder and majority owner of Bloomberg News parent Bloomberg LP.

 The permits contained information on filming locations for movies and television shows. The movies “Precious” and “It’s Complicated,” which stars Meryl Streep and Alec Baldwin, were shot in New York City. The TV shows “30 Rock,” “Gossip Girls,” “The Good Wife,” “Ugly Betty” and “White Collar” also use city locations.

“There are so many projects in New York, so that’s why you go to the mayor’s office,” said Sands, who sported the paparazzo’s typical unshaven face and disheveled hair. “Now the city is going to make it hard for us to find this information. They’re taking away our rights.”

Requests to view the film-shoot permits now have to be made by mail or e-mail through New York State’s Freedom of Information Law.

“We’re looking to try to have a system to get back to people within a week,” said Marybeth Ihle, a city spokeswoman.

Stolen Documents

The city decided to end the public viewings because of space constraints and reports of stolen documents, Ihle said. The system had been in place for longer than anyone at the film office could recall, Ihle said. The best estimate was more than 15 years.

 To Chris Doherty, president of INF, a New York-based celebrity-photo agency, the decision is an attack on the paparazzi and an effort to cull favor with the film and TV industry that Ihle said contributes about $5 billion a year to the city’s economy.

“There are suggestions that the film industry is getting annoyed with the number of people showing up at these shoots,” Doherty said. “But these are public records that help us to do our job.” Ihle denied that outside pressure prompted the change.

To be sure, the advent of Twitter Inc., Facebook Inc. and Web sites such as, dedicated to tracking film shoots and celebrity whereabouts, has made once-elusive information almost commonplace, Doherty said. Still, the film office is a dependable source for leads, he said.

‘Catch-22 Situation’

Doherty, whose agency employs about 30 people in New York and Los Angeles, said he was wary about the Freedom of Information process because of the potential for long waits and because it largely requires photographers to know what they’re looking for.

 “If we don’t know the document exists, how can we ask for it? It’s a Catch-22 situation,” he said.

Norman Siegel, a civil-rights lawyer, said the decision appeared to favor one set of New Yorkers and even non-New Yorkers (TV and movie people) over another (paparazzi and not- so-famous actors who use the listings to seek walk-on leads.)

“The fact that the city has been doing this for so long says that at one point they thought this was something they should do,” Siegel said. “It’s possible the city can do what it’s doing legally but whether it should be doing it is another issue.”

Crowd Control

James Devaney, 32, has placed his photos of Angelina Jolie, Katie Holmes and others in People and Star magazines and the New York Post newspaper. Besides checking the permits, he has gotten tips from film-production people and even public-relations agents. Celebrities often want the publicity afforded by the paparazzi, he said. Still, he’s torn about the city’s change in policy.

“What the city is doing isn’t right,” said Devaney, who has been photographing celebrities for 12 years. “Then again, film shoots have gotten really crowded, so I kind of wondered why it took so long for them to do this.”

Sam Dickerson, a photo editor at Splash News & Picture Agency, said it’s common to find 10 to 12 people waiting to get into the permit office. The city allows just two people at a time to view the documents, and only for 30 minutes.

 “People are going to have to lean a lot heavier on blogs and Twitter and sightings than just going down to the permit office,” said Dickerson, whose agency’s photos adorned the Nov. 15 cover of the New York Times’s Sunday Styles section.

As he has done for years, Sands went down to the city’s film office on Broadway in mid-November a week after the new permit viewing process was announced. For a half-hour he leafed through a stack of the green onion-paper documents before being told his time was up.

“The film office can be a good place but there are just too many photographers, Web sites and paparazzi agencies now,” Sands said. “They killed the golden goose.”