Maui Senator Supports “Steven Tyler Act”

February 4, 2013, 7:20 AM HST · Updated February 4, 8:52 AM
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Courtesy file photo.

Courtesy file photo.

By Wendy Osher

State Senator J. Kalani English of Maui was among the lawmakers who joined in introducing a bill to protect celebrities from paparazzi.

The bill, now being called the Steven Tyler Act, after the Aerosmith lead singer, former “American Idol” judge, and part-time Maui resident, would give celebrities the right to sue over unwanted photos, images, and recordings in the islands.

Senate Bill 465 is intended to provide protection from offensive recordings if there is “reasonable expectation” of keeping personal family moments private.

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The bill states that Hawai‘i is home to many celebrities, particularly on Maui, who are subjected to harassment from photographers and reporters seeking photographs and news stories.

“Although their celebrity status may justify a lower expectation of privacy,” the bill states, “the Legislature finds that sometimes the paparazzi go too far to disturb the peace and tranquility afforded celebrities who escape to Hawai‘i for a quiet life.”

Lawmakers who support the bill say that because existing Hawai‘i statutes are silent on a civil cause of action for constructive invasion of privacy, many celebrities are deterred from buying property or vacationing in Hawai‘i.

Steven Tyler, after whom the bill is named, recently purchased a home on Maui, and plans to share his time between Boston, Los Angeles, and the Valley Isle. Lawmakers who drafted the legislation say the bill honors his contribution to the arts in Hawai‘i and throughout the world.

The purpose of this act, supporters say, is to encourage celebrities to visit and reside in the state by creating a civil cause of action against the constructive invasion of privacy.

The item passed first reading and has since been referred to the Senate Committee on Judiciary and Labor.

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