Photographers Risk Incarceration to Procure Image of Bieber

by IP Blawg on October 12, 2012

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Hunting Prey for Profit

Paul Raef gets up early each morning to hunt his prey. His tools to catch those he stalks are a fast car, a network of paid snitches and an expensive camera. He roams the canyons of Hollywood to find movie and recording stars at their most private moments. Each picture he snaps has the potential to make him a fortune. As a paparazzo, his craft is one of the few where he can hunt a person and not be charged with the crime of stalking. That changed this week.

For the first time in California history, the Los Angeles police arrested Raef for stalking. The L.A. city attorney’s office formerly charged him on Wednesday under the state’s new and harsh anti-stalking law. He faces a heavy fine and time in jail.

Raef was charged after he sped down Highway 101 at speeds close to 100 mph in pursuit of teen pop star Justin Bieber.

Paparazzi Pursue Pop Star Bieber

In a statement to police, Bieber claimed that he was chased by several paparazzi in vehicles. Raef was apparently the leader of a pack of vehicles pursuing Bieber. After police pulled Bieber over for speeding, the paparazzi made their escape. About 30 minutes later, Bieber called 911 and said a car that had chased him earlier was again pursuing him.

Dennis Zine, an L.A. city councilman, said he witnessed the incident and saw the paparazzi chasing after Bieber and weaving through traffic. Zine called it “a very dangerous driving situation.”

Police followed up on Bieber’s report and found a vehicle with the license number Bieber reported in a downtown L.A. parking lot. Police used the plate on the Toyota Rav 4 to find Raef.

Paparazzo Faces Criminal Charges Under New Law

Raef now faces various criminal charges, including reckless driving, not obeying the orders of a police officer and following a vehicle too closely with intent to take pictures for commercial gain. That last charge is the result of the new anti-stalking law as applied to paparazzo. Raef is looking at $3,500 in fines and up to one year in the L.A. County jail, according to City Attorney Carmen Trutanich. Raef has a scheduled court appearance on August 9.

This new law, A.B. 2479, imposes harsh fines and possible jail time. It applies to photographers who “block sidewalks or drive recklessly chasing celebrities to create a sense of false imprisonment.”

Assemblywoman Karen Bass, who represents Los Angeles, wrote the law with Trutanich’s help. Former Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed the bill into law in 2010. Various newsrooms and publications blasted the law as an infringement on freedom of the press.

Prosecute These Slimeballs

Bass countered the criticism by stating that the law doesn’t infringe on press freedom; it’s about safety. Many celebrities fear that these paparazzo pursuits will cause an accident that will result in death.

Bieber has been stopped a number of times by police for his driving. During his escapade with Raef, police gave Bieber a ticket for reckless driving in his Fisker Karma. The pop star said he was trying to get away from the paparazzi.

In comments at the Los Angeles Times story, readers came down on the side of the celebrities. One person summed up the readers’ attitudes toward the paparazzi: “I’m glad they’re starting to prosecute these slimeballs before someone gets killed again. We don’t need a Princess Diana type repeat.”

About the author
This article was composed by Otter Boone for the team at kanetix; be sure to view their mortgage financing calculator; you’ll agree after viewing it that it’s better than an abacus.

IP Blawg

IP Blawg

IP Law Blogger at IPBlawg
Intellectual Property Blawg is a legal news blog on intellectual property law and practice.
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  • http://www.smslegal.com Claudia Ricardo

    It’s about time something happened to these paparazzos. It’s absolutely ridiculous that they can stalk these celebrities (to the point of destruction) and it’s time that they stood up for their rights. (It has also created such a harmful ideal for being a celebrity…)

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