Pending Hawaii law “could punish anyone who takes a photo of a celebrity in public”

by Walter Olson on February 21, 2013

“Hawaii needs to rethink the ‘Steven Tyler Act.’ States can promote the right of privacy while ensuring freedom of speech.” [Josh Blackman/Ilya Shapiro, USA Today]


1 Vince_Fiero 02.21.13 at 10:23 am

I do believe that the issue is a lot more fundamental.
The right to privacy is again a positive right, a right where you forbid others to do something because you do not like it.
People can take pictures, just like they can accidentally run into you. People can not take pictures continuously since they act on changing the environment. Just like people can not run into you all the time, since it would avoid you from doing even the basic things.
The issue is continuously or “in an harassing way”, it becomes very subjective and thus difficult in law. Do you need to control picture taking or exaggerated picture taking?

2 Doug 02.21.13 at 10:57 am

I have no idea what Vince said. But, if you are in public, you should be fair game.

3 Ed 02.21.13 at 12:05 pm

I think the article overstates its case. Per the article: ‘The law would prohibit recording someone “in a manner that is offensive to a reasonable person,” while that person is “engaging in a personal or familial activity.”
Taking a photo or two for personal use would not, to a reasonable person, be in violation of the law. Chasing some one, causing a scene and taking rolls (flashcards?) of pictures for commercial use would (should) be prohibited.

4 Frank 02.21.13 at 1:04 pm

The article notes in a manner that would be offensive to reasonable person.

That shouldn’t stop anyone from taking a snap on the beach or at a speech.

5 gitarcarver 02.21.13 at 4:40 pm

Chasing some one, causing a scene and taking rolls (flashcards?) of pictures for commercial use would (should) be prohibited.

There are laws against stalking. There are laws against starting a fight. There are laws against causing disturbances

There is no line in the sand for “reasonable” as what you consider unreasonable, I may consider “reasonable” and vice versa.

People in a civilized society should know with certainty what is illegal behavior. The illegality of something should not rest on “reasonable.”

In my reasonable opinion, this law is a disaster.

6 Aloysious A Gruntpuddock 02.21.13 at 5:06 pm

And just how do you define a”celebrity”?

7 Ron Miller 02.21.13 at 10:23 pm

It is a bad law. But it has good intentions. What these people do to get these pictures is pretty awful. But there are some ills in society we just can’t legislature away without throwing out the baby with the bath water.

8 Tom Smith 02.22.13 at 3:10 am

I have the same sentiments with Ron, but I guess its not that a bad law. Some parameters should be included and debated thoroughly before passing it.

9 Mike 02.22.13 at 5:38 pm

See Ron Galella, generally.

10 boblipton 02.22.13 at 9:25 pm

The word that fills me with dread is “reasonable”.


11 nevins 02.22.13 at 9:49 pm

full text of the bill:(

While the body of the text avoids ‘celebrity’, the preamble clearly states the groups being protected. I am not a lawyer, so can someone explain how this works with the 14th amendment equal protection clause? Some folks are just more special and deserve more protections of law than others in Hawai’i apparently.

12 David Schwartz 02.25.13 at 2:38 am

nevins: I think that’s a problem. The law doesn’t apply only to celebrities, but to anyone who might have someone else try to capture their image in an offensive manner. A law prohibiting obscene phone calls only benefits people who have a phone, but surely that doesn’t subject it to 14A scrutiny.

13 Ron Miller 02.25.13 at 11:13 am

I’m not in favor of the law. But, Bob, reasonableness as a standard is an idea deeply embedded in our law. Be nice to have some one size fits all standard but the real world does not work that way.

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