People with clearly too much time on their hands have spent countless hours dissecting the news of Ben Affleck's casting as Batman as if it were as important as the selection of a new pope or Supreme Court justice.
But the far more important story for Affleck and wife Jennifer Garner isn't getting nearly commensurate attention: A proposed state law that would protect the children of celebrities from paparazzi.
If passed, the bill would place tougher penalties--a year in jail and a $10,000 fine--on photographers who target children.
Garner and Affleck have three young children, and Garner testified in Sacramento a week and a half ago that a roving group of paparazzi follows the family to the pediatrician's office and elementary school.
Garner acknolwedged that she made the decision to have a public life when she chose her career, but that her children are private citizens and deserve protection.
"I don't want a gang of shouting, arguing, law-breaking photographers who camp out everywhere we are, all day, every day, to continue to traumatize my kids," the "Alias" star testified.
Affleck and Garner have said they cannot enroll their children in organized team sports such as AYSO soccer because the kids would be stalked at games and practices.
Proposed by Sen. Kevin DeLeon (D-Los Angeles), Senate Bill 606 would change the legal definition of harassment to include any conduct that "alarms, annoys, torments or terrorizes" a child while photographing or recording that child without express parental consent.
The legislation specifically mentions photography that involves "following the child's activities or lying in wait" and targeting a child because of a parent's line of work.
The bill further states that "upon a violation of this section, the parent or legal guardian of an aggrieved child or ward may bring a civil action against the violator on behalf of the child or ward.
"The remedies in that civil action shall be limited to one or more of the following: actual damages, punitive damages, reasonable attorney’s fees, costs, disgorgement of any compensation from the sale, license, or dissemination of a child’s image or voice received by the individual who, in violation of this section, recorded the child’s image or voice, and injunctive relief against further violations of this section by the individual."
Last week, the bill was unanimously passed by the Assembly Appropriations Committee, having cleared the Assembly Judiciary Committee without opposition.
The bill has its opponents, including newspaper publishers, who say it would infringe on journalists’ ability to do their jobs.
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