HONOLULU (AP) - Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler plans to attend a legislative hearing in Hawaii on Friday on a bill that bears his name and would limit people’s freedom to take photos and video of celebrities.
Hawaii’s Senate Judiciary Committee plans to consider the so-called Steven Tyler Act on Friday morning, the first time lawmakers will discuss the bill publicly.
A publicist for the former “American Idol” judge told The Associated Press on Thursday that Tyler submitted written testimony supporting the proposal, which would allow people to collect damages from someone who photographs them in an offensive way during their personal or family time.
“The paradise of Hawaii is a magnet for celebrities who just want a peaceful vacation,” Tyler said in a statement emailed to The Associated Press. “As a person in the public eye, I know the paparazzi are there and we have to accept that. But when they intrude into our private space, disregard our safety and the safety of others, that crosses a serious line that shouldn’t be ignored.”
More than a dozen celebrities have submitted testimony supporting the bill, including Britney Spears, Avril Lavigne, Neil Diamond, Tommy Lee and the Osborne family. The letters all included the same text.
The stars say paparazzi have made simple activities like cooking with family and sunbathing elusive luxuries and the bill would give them peace of mind.
“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 stars said. “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.”
Hawaii Gov. Neil Abercrombie says he supports the intent of the bill but says it may need to be refined. He says the state attorney general will testify about legal concerns concerning the bill’s language.
Sen. Kalani English, from Maui, says he introduced the bill at the request of Tyler, who owns a multimillion-dollar home in Maui. More than two-thirds of the state’s senators have co-sponsored the bill.
English says the bill will spur celebrity tourism to the islands, boosting Hawaii’s economy.
Opponents say the bill could be unconstitutional.
Laurie Temple, an attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union, said Thursday the bill would punish freedoms of expression protected by the First Amendment.
She said lawmakers should support better enforcement of current stalking laws rather than passing new legislation.
The National Press Photographers Association said the bill is “well-meaning but ill-conceived” and tramples on constitutional rights.
The New York-based organization represents numerous national media organizations with its letter, including the Society of Professional Journalists, the Associated Press Media Editors and the American Society of News Editors.