Amendment Boosts Stars' Lawsuit Power - NBC Bay Area

Amendment Boosts Stars' Lawsuit Power



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    Illinois' beleagured governor says he'll fight the charges against him, not in court, but with a media blitz which will take him directly to the people.

    Media outlets take note -- the governor has signed an amendment that makes it easier for stars to sue over paparazzi photos.

    The amendment permits lawsuits against media outlets that pay for and make first use of material they knew was improperly obtained.

    The decade-old law already allowed for fines against paparazzi who illegally or offensively take photos or recordings. Now, media outlets are lumped into the mix.

    Tabloid magazines, TV shows and Internet sites sometimes pay millions of dollars for celebrity photographs.

    The governor, who signed the bill amendment and 450-plus pieces of legislation during the weekend, had his own run-in with paparazzi in 1998. His Mercedes Benz was surrounded by flashing cameras as he picked his child up from school.

    Arnold Schwarzenegger and his wife, Maria Shriver, testified against the photographers in court. Shriver was pregnant with the couple's fourth child at the time of the paparazzi encounter.

    "I felt the impact of the car and my wife started yelling, 'He hit us! He hit us! My God, he's crazy!' " Schwarzenegger said in court. "She said, 'We are jammed in here. What do I do?' and I said, 'Calm down . . . just try to get out of the problem.'"

    The action movie star was in one of the world's safest luxury sedans at the time. Not all high-profile LA residents have been that fortunate. Britney Spears resorted to wielding an umbrella, Kayne West had a rough landing at LAX, and Sienna Miller unleashed her handbag on photographers during a walk through the airport.

    In 2005, a pair of paparazzi encounters on LA roads led to crashes. One involved actress Lindsay Lohan, another involved actress Scarlett Johansson.

    The amendment takes effect in January.