By Jacqueline Lechtholz-Zey, JD '11 and Gregory Strausberg, JD '09, LLM '11
On Feb. 25, the Loyola of Los Angeles Entertainment Law Review will present a day-long, three panel event entitled "Paparazzi Law in a Flash: Examining California's Past, Present and Future." This symposium aims to educate its law student, media professional, and attorney audiences on the legal discourse surrounding the modern day paparazzi in the context of the recent enactment of AB 2479 ("the anti-stalking law"). This newly enacted law makes it a misdemeanor to tailgate or drive recklessly to capture a photo or tape recording of an individual for commercial purposes. It represents California's most recent attempt at addressing the storied problem of striking the proper Constitutional balance between the First Amendment's protections for newsgatherers and an individual's right to privacy. With the passage of AB 2479, it is clear that states are again starting (as they did with the rise of "yellow journalism" over a hundred years ago) to recognize a growing problem in the way this segment of the media interacts with its subjects. However, the lack of enforcement of past laws aimed at curbing abusive practices--as indicated by the relative absence of lawsuits under California Civil Code § 1708.8--demonstrates the immense power of the First Amendment and the difficulty in crafting laws that do strike this proper balance. More information about the event is available on its website.
The legal dialogue regarding the paparazzi--including its dynamic interplay of state and federal law--is a field that has intrigued scholars (legal and non-legal alike) since the beginnings of America's media and entertainment industry, as exemplified by the axiomatic writings of Louis Brandeis and Samuel Warren in The Right To Privacy at 4 Harvard Law Review 193 (1890). While no point in American history clearly establishes the origin of an aggressive media force in need of legal regulation, many attribute the identification of this problem as coinciding with the rise of "yellow journalism" in the late nineteenth century. Such "journalism" is no better typified than by the infamous publication of an article in the New York Journal in 1898 that exclaimed, "DESTRUCTION OF THE WAR SHIP MAINE WAS THE WORK OF AN ENEMY"--a title that does not seem to sound so far flung from the typical grocery store tabloid reads of 2011. Such dramatic, seemingly simple proclamations had the power of catching the attention of the average nineteenth century reader and were therefore crucial to the fortunes of the rapidly expanding media companies of the time. However, behind such "simple" statements and their accompanying images (which often depicted famous individuals or sensationalized events) laid an extremely complex legal dilemma, which forced legal scholars such as Louis Brandeis and Samuel Warren, along with the American courts, to properly consider the point at which the First Amendment shield ended and where the right to privacy sword began.
Paparazzi Law in a Flash: Examining California's Past, Present and Future will include discussions of the past, present and future legal developments on this topic in a way that is understandable to legal and non-legal professionals. Loyola Law School has assembled leading practitioners, scholars, as well as recently admitted entertainment lawyers who have all played a central role in the on-going debate of what is permissible, constitutionally protected activity versus activity giving rise to criminal and civil liability. Loyola Professor Karl Manheim will speak about parallel efforts and international privacy law. And Professor Jay Dougherty will serve as a moderator. Loyola of Los Angeles Entertainment Law Review is also proud to include the discussions and articles of its own students Patrick Alach JD '09 and Gary Wax JD '09, which should be of use to those who seek to enforce or defend against the instantiation of this new statutory scheme.
This event is open to all who wish to attend. For media relations, please contact Brian Costello, deputy director of commujnications. We thank you for your support of this event and other future Loyola Law School entertainment and media law productions.