Bieber uses photographer’s death to call for curbs on media

Neil Munro White House Correspondent
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Teen-heartthrob Justin Bieber is exploiting the tragic death of an adventurous photographer to revive demands by Hollywood glitterati for curbs on photographers’ First Amendment rights.

“Hopefully this tragedy will finally inspire meaningful legislation and whatever other necessary steps to protect the lives and safety of celebrities, police officers, innocent public bystanders, and the photographers themselves,” the Canadian singer in a statement.

In November, the Los Angeles Superior Court struck down a controversial 2010 anti-photographer law backed by Bieber and many wealthy entertainers.

The law, dubbed the “anti-paparazzi” law, penalized photographers who act “recklessly” while taking pictures for “commercial gain.”

It was struck down in a case involving Bieber. The case was brought by local cops against a photographer, Paul Raef, who had followed Bieber’s vehicle down a California freeway.

The judge, Thomas Rubinson, allowed cops to charge the photographer with traffic offenses, but rejected the charge that Raef had acted recklessly while trying to take pictures for commercial gain.

“Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press,” says the text of the First Amendment to the constitution.

Supporters of the First Amendment applauded the decision, saying the law could have led to even more curbs on reporters aggressively question or annoy powerful people.

On Jan. 1, a Los Angeles photographer was killed when he was struck by a car while trying to photograph a person driving Bieber’s auto.

After using the photographer’s death to lobby for curbs on photographers, Bieber expressed sorrow for the accident. “While I was not present nor directly involved with this tragic accident, my thoughts and prayers are with the family of the victim,” he claimed.

Television programs such as TMZ, pay good money for new pictures of entertainment-industry stars, chiefly because lots of Americans want to track the activities of the glamorous and well-known personalities.

Entertainment-industry stars have lobbied for more than a decade to impose restrictions on the photographers who often follow them through airports or to restaurants.

The contradiction between the stars’ simultaneous demands for privacy and for greater publicity of their entertainment careers has prompted much derision. In 2008, L.A. police chief William Bratton denounced a so-called “Los Angeles Regional Paparazzi Task Force” as “a total waste of time.”

“We have sufficient laws on the books that we enforce to deal with this issue,” he said in an interview with the a news station, KNBC-TV.

“If the ones that attract the paparazzi behave in the first place, like we expect of anybody, that solves about 90 percent of the problem. The rest of it we can deal with.”

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