revenge porn victim rights

Revenge Porn: Victims’ Rights

By Amanda Osorio

There is currently no federal law regulating the distribution of revenge porn, also known as nonconsensual pornography (NCP). The Cyber Civil Rights Initiative has created a model for what the federal government could eventually adopt. The model essentially lays out that if a person knowingly distributes sexually explicit material about another person, knowing they did not have consent to do so, they will be fined, serve prison time, or both. The model also provides exceptions such as immunity when the explicit material is obtained during a lawful commercial setting, or disclosures made in the public interest (e.g. for criminal reporting, legal proceedings, or medical treatment). Finally, the model provides immunity to service providers who have unknowingly become involved in NCP merely through the nature of their business.

27 states have adopted statutes to combat the recent increase in revenge porn incidents. Eleven of the statutes have created crimes that can result in a potential felony charge, while the rest would be misdemeanors. Examples of the felony charges include unlawful distribution of images depicting states of nudity, violation of privacy, sexual cyberharassment, and video voyeurism, among others. Offenses classed as a misdemeanor include posting a private image for harassment, invasion of privacy, stalking and harassment, distribution of intimate images without or against consent, and representations depicting nudity, among others.

In addition to possible criminal penalties, a victim can often bring a civil action against a person who has posted distributed explicit materials without their consent. The claims would likely stem from copyright infringement (discussed below) or invasion of privacy. Due to certain statutory limitations, owners and operators of sites that do not retain strict control of the content posted to their sites will likely not be held responsible.

Alternative Means of Protection/Response

Criminal and civil proceedings can be very draining on a victim and therefore not everyone will choose to go that route; however, there are other options out there.

If you personally have taken a photo or video, then you own the copyright to that photo or video. Because you own the copyright, you can submit a Digital Millennium Copyright Act takedown (DCMA takedown), which is simply when content is removed from a website at the request of the owner of the copyright. To execute a DCMA takedown you (1) must be the copyright owner, (2) provide the original version of the work, and (3) explain where the infringement is occurring.

Another alternative would be to contact Google personally and request that they remove the content. Google has stated that they will comply with a person’s request to remove revenge porn from the search engine. Additionally, you can take personal action through search engine optimization to bury the images that you wish people do not see. By taking things into your own hands you can control what personal content people see when they search your name.

Conclusion

Nonconsensual exposure of pornographic content is rapidly becoming a major issue through the entire country. With it being such a new trend, government and law enforcement are behind the curve in controlling this outbreak, but they are working to fix that. Over half of U.S. states have created laws to penalize revenge porn posters and more legislation is on the way.

For more information about the privacy and how to respond to revenge porn contact Revision Legal’s team of experienced internet privacy attorneys through this form or call 855-473-8474.

Image courtesy of Flickr user Adam Kuśmierz

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