Hollywood's pampered celebrities have long been biting the hand of the paparazzi who help feed them their fame. From Malibu to Beverly Hills, poolside chatter is constantly punctuated by the moans of movie stars recounting horror stories of how the snapping lenses of tabloid photographers never allow them a moment's peace. While it is difficult for most earthly mortals to feel much sympathy for millionaire movie stars who complain about having had their truffle risotto at Spago's ruined by the flashes of the paparazzi, you could fill a book merely listing some high-profile run-ins. Recent cases which spring to mind include the dangerous fender-bender which occurred when camera crews chased Arnold Schwarzenegger and his wife not long after his heart surgery; Alec Baldwin punching a photographer who was trying to get pictures of his newborn baby; and George Clooney being filmed in a restaurant by TV journalists who set up a fake birthday party in the same venue so they could get inside and secretly shoot the footage. Even in the last few days, Barbra Streisand's fiance, actor James Brolin, ended up on the cover of the New York tabloids after he did what every paparazzi tries to entice stars to do - get mad and attack them. Non-artists granted 15 minutes of fame, such as Monica Lewinsky, often live out that 15 minutes in a blinding glare, as the fracas outside her father's Los Angeles home so painfully demonstrated. The Hollywood fraternity had long sought congressional help in enacting a law which would protect them from snooping snappers. But it was not until the outpouring of grief and blame following the Paris death of Princess Diana that the movement truly gathered steam. Whereas Britain's press has avoided swingeing legislation by undertaking to stick to voluntary codes of practice, their US brethren may not have it so easy. California Senator Dianne Feinstein, a big beneficiary of campaign donations from LA's entertainment industry, last week announced the introduction of legislation to curb the activities of the paparazzi. But while Ms Feinstein is being hailed as a heroine by the victims, her bill is setting the stage for a big constitutional battle which could end with a final verdict on just how far Washington can reach in preventing the media from going about its business. Previous attempts to protect the privacy of celebrities have fallen foul of the First Amendment right to freedom of expression. With that in mind, Ms Feinstein enlisted the help of constitutional experts and asked for private briefings from stars such as Sharon Stone to hear what it was like running from the cameras. The narrowly-crafted law would make it illegal to put a subject at risk by chasing them for a photograph and film footage - and perhaps more controversially, would classify as trespassing the use of a zoom lens to capture victims inside their property. One paparazzo was blunt in his display of disgust. 'This is terrible. This isn't fair,' he told the Los Angeles Times. 'Celebrities don't have any rights. When they choose to become famous, they give up their rights.' But law professor Erwin Chemerinsky, who helped draft the bill, countered: 'Endangering someone isn't protected by the First Amendment. Trespassing isn't protected by the First Amendment.' Critics add that several states already have laws protecting celebrities' privacy. But one problem is that such laws are rarely enforced - and only when someone gets hurt. The two lensmen in the Schwarzenegger case, for example, were found guilty of false imprisonment. When it comes to paparazzi, the Washington variety has a much more prosaic task than its LA counterparts. Recently, their job has been reduced to standing for hours outside Ken Starr's grand jury waiting for another Clinton administration aide to walk in. But while they idle in the Washington winter, at least they have a game to keep them amused: guess the witnesses' legal fees. Working for the president might be glamorous and a nice entree into the lucrative private sector, but it has its drawbacks when the boss is a man with as many legal troubles as Bill Clinton. His aides have been dragged into many of Mr Starr's probes, from Whitewater to Lewinsky, and get next to no help paying their lawyers' fees - even though their exposure to the cases comes from their public service. According to The New York Times, some of the bills are horrendous: Maggie Willams, former chief aide to Hillary Clinton, spent US$350,000 (HK$2.7 million) on representation; former deputy chief of staff Harold Ickes US$250,000; and ex-senior adviser George Stephanopolous something approaching the same amount. Even junior press officers have been on the receiving end of Starr subpoenas, and have to raid their savings to pay their bills. 'Every time a White House aide walks into that [jury] room, a lawyer is racking up fees,' an understandably miffed Mr Stephanopolous told The New York Times. 'A single trip to the grand jury can cost you US$10,000.' 'Gorgeous' George has managed to get his own back in his new incarnation as a highly-paid TV pundit, criticising his former boss for his indiscretions. Lowlier and less lucky employees are praying for a friendly bank manager.