Photog Arrested for Chasing Bieber Now Fighting California Anti-Paparazzi Law

Freelance paparazzi photographer Paul Raef was arrested back on July 6th after chasing Justin Bieber on 101 Freeway, becoming the first person charged under a new anti-paparazzi law signed by former governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Raef is currently facing four misdemeanors, with two of them being “following another vehicle too closely and reckless driving, with the intent to capture pictures for commercial gain.” The punishment is up to one year in jail and $3,500 in fines.

The Los Angeles Times reports that his lawyers are now trying to have the anti-paparazzi law declared as unconstitutional, saying that it specifically and unfairly targets a certain group of news gatherers.

“It punishes only the press for engaging in news-gathering,” said Dmitry Gorin, one of Raef’s attorneys. “The law does not apply to a crazed fan following a celebrity, nor does it punish a reporter who is not paid for the photographs.”

Paparazzi photographers have the same constitutional protection as any member of the press, he said.

There is also the question how police officers would determine that the photographer intends to use the photographs for “commercial gain”. After all, there’s no commercial gain until commercial gain happens, right?

Image credit: Dustin Hoffman in a Vintage Benz by Zeetz Jones

  • Jimbo

    Anyone who chases Bieber should be arrested….on grounds of taste.

  • vale1005

    “unfairly targets a certain group of news gatherers.” Thats not news your gathering.

  • deBona

    Paparazzis are douchebags, just to be clear. Their job is an insult for photographers in most of the cases (this being one of them). They just get into others privacy just to get some money (as I said, most of the cases, i’m not talking about the ones who try to unveil corruption and things like that).

    I wonder, what would they think if they were the hounded ones? Or even worst, they had children being chased so dangerous and recklessly? I hope this one get the one year in jail.

  • Haufmann56

    that’s fine. paparazzi = scum NOT photographers

  • Don Hilfreich

    paparazzi GET their money! most decent, sports, politics, freelance photographers have to struggle and have to sue their clients to come to this point, I would not…may be I would, if a “Newspaper” is willing to pay 50.000 for one shot…I would do this kind of work

  • Zta

    Love the Mercedes-Benz.

  • Bua

    Admit it Beiber, you love the attention that you get from the paparazzi.

  • Mark

    “It punishes only the press for engaging in news-gathering”

    Yes, well that’s the way this country has been going for some time now. Except it doesn’t seem to apply to ALL press, just the chosen.

  • Tom Bryan

    Paparazzis are the scum of the photographic world.

  • Mike Lerner

    Hello everyone. My name is Mike and I am Justin’s tour photographer. Let me try to explain to you why this law makes sense.

    While I was on tour with Justin in Europe we had a show in Liverpool. Now we all know that paps in Europe are far more aggressive than the ones here in the US, we saw that with Princess Diana. Im getting off topic. Anyway, Justin, his security and I took one car to a children’s hospital before the show. Justin is great with kids and wanted to visit the hospital before the show; no entourage, no managers, just myself and Bieber.

    When we arrived, there was no one there, as word of him coming was kept under wraps. When we left however, that was a completely different story. We had to race back into the car, as paps chased us through the parking lot and in the car was something I’ve never experienced before.

    Before I knew it, these cars started following us, weaving in and out of traffic and getting incredibly close to our car. These guys had no idea what was happening on the road as they were driving, nor did they care. Now, I’m sure most celebrities don’t have a photographer with them while they try to evade papparazzi, so what I decided to do with my flash was I took it off my camera and held it out the window and fired it in bursts at the driver WHILE HE WAS LEANING OUT OF HIS DRIVER SIDE WINDOW WHILE DRIVING TRYING TO GET A SHOT. After about a minute of flashing him, he backed off.

    These people have to remember that reckless driving is no joke. Photographing someone on the sidewalk fine, but when you take the lives of innocent people into your hands, the line has to be drawn, and I fully support this law.

  •!/thelonelylights Adam Cross

    paps struggle too, with so many working it’s pretty difficult to make a consistent wage. A photo call comes through and you’re just hoping that other photographers haven’t got there yet and snapped photos that you’ve missed – their photos get printed and you don’t get paid.

  •!/thelonelylights Adam Cross

    what makes you such an authority on who is a photographer and who is not?

  • Yet Another Amateur

    Photographer is kind of an artist. Paparazzi – pervert trying to get a pictures of someone’s private life. For photographer a good photo is where a person looks good in it. Paparazzi is the opposite. He would rather take a picture of someone drunk rather than smiling. Also you don’t need technical knowledge to be paparazzi. You just grab a superzoom lense, tripod and peek through someone’s winndows.

  • Bernie

    1. I think as “Justin’s tour photographer” you count as an “entourage”.
    2. You’re arguing for safety and telling us how you made the experience LESS safe to discourage the paparazzi… illogical.
    3. (this is less to you, mike and more to the discussion as a whole) This law makes complete sense and could get around this issue of constitutionality by not limiting the act to paparazzi… duh?

  • Bernie

    3.b. I’m unsure what chasing another car and taking photos isn’t just considered reckless driving. Law conscious people have a response?

  • Mike Lerner

    a. I’m definitely not part of his entourage. I am hired for a job that I do. I’m not around him 24/7 like most of his “entourage” is. He wanted me to come along and document the visit.

    b. Did I make the situation less safe, by trying to blind the photographer? Maybe. But I noticed that because he was driving so recklessly people driving behind him, pretty much came to a stop. The only person he wouldve hurt at that point, was himself.

  •!/thelonelylights Adam Cross

    The general public create the demand for the photography used in magazines, newspapers and websites – someone has to take the photos.

    Anyway, as for “trying to get a pictures of someone’s private life” .. how is that any different to a regular person doing “street photography” – they’re photographing people that probably don’t want to be photographed but they put it in black and white and everyone calls it “art” – it’s bullshit.

    Photojournalists (to give them their proper name) have a job to do, they don’t always get paid but they work their asses off trying to get the images that the public want to see and what agencies are asking for.

    Don’t blame the photographers, blame the society that we’re in. Without this kind of culture photojournalists wouldn’t have to follow celebrities/athletes/politicians around taking their photos trying to get paid

  •!/thelonelylights Adam Cross

    Surely the public and the agencies that want the photographs in the first place are worse? Don’t blame photographers for what people want to see

  • Ralph Hightower

    What’s a Bieber?

  • Tom Bryan

    I can certainly reprimand the photographer for excessive force and agitation. It’s the nature of the business, correct…. but to agree to make your living by making celebrities miserable and sometimes endangering them AND profiting from it is what makes them twisted mutations of the title “Photographer”….and Don’t call me surely >_<

  • vonwong

    As much as I don’t want to judge another person, I do not feel like a paparazzi constitutes an ethical job, similarly to how I would feel about say… a pimp or drug dealer :)

  • TedCrunch

    It was paparazzi who caused princess Diana’s death. It wasn’t a photographer.

  • Mantis


  • Mantis

    “Paps”. Get a load of this douchebag.

  • Jackson Cheese

    You really sound like you’re repeating a line that somebody else told you so you don’t feel bad about what you do for a living.

  • Stacy Walsh Rosenstock

    “The law does not apply to a crazed fan following a celebrity,”
    because most of Beiber’s fans aren’t old enough to drive?

  • inerdtia

    From WikiPedia:

    EtymologyThe word “paparazzi” is an eponym originating in the 1960 film La Dolce Vita directed by Federico Fellini. One of the characters in the film is a news photographer named Paparazzo (played by Walter Santesso). In his book Word and Phrase Origins, Robert Hendrickson writes that Fellini took the name from an Italian dialect word that describes a particularly annoying noise, that of a buzzing mosquito. As Fellini said in his interview to Time magazine, “Paparazzo… suggests to me a buzzing insect, hovering, darting, stinging.” [3]

  • Ken

    I’m generally Libertarian/Constitutionalist and generally fall on the side of freedom to do what you please as long as it doesn’t interfere with another person’s own freedom, therefore one has the right to record whatever image one chooses while in a public place. However, after reading the law I think it will hold to Constitutional muster (though I was wrong with the “Individual Mandate.) The law is pretty much a “punitive modifier” along the same lines as hate crime laws or committing a crime with a handgun can get one increased punishment if convicted. Being a paparazzi is not a crime, but if you’re caught driving recklessly, or otherwise endangering another, while attempting to gather “news” on celebrities for gain then the charges carry more fines and jail time.

  • Gary Martin

    Hard Luck shithead..Shouldn’t have been annoying someone in the first place.