Tyler behind effort to limit photographing of celebrities

Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler and guitarist Joe Perry.
Theo Wargo/Getty Images/file
Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler (with guitarist Joe Perry) and others are trying to curb offensive photos of celebrities in Hawaii.

HONOLULU — Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler planned 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 planned to consider the so-called Steven Tyler Act on Friday, the first time lawmakers have discussed 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.’’

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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 Governor Neil Abercrombie said he supports the intent of the bill but said it may need to be refined. The state attorney general was set to testify about legal concerns concerning the bill’s language.


Senator Kalani English, from Maui, said 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 cosponsored the bill.

The bill will spur celebrity tourism to the islands, boosting Hawaii’s economy, English said.

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.

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.


The Motion Picture Association of America also opposes the bill.

Hawaii’s largest newspaper, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, published an editorial Thursday that called lawmakers who support the bill ‘‘star-struck.’’ The newspaper said the bill might not affect only journalists.

‘‘It could also make lawbreakers out of anyone taking photographs in public places, be it an ordinary photojournalist or someone with a camera phone,’’ the editorial said.