Non-Consensual Distribution of Pornography

Non-consensual distribution of porn is pretty self-explanatory; it’s the distribution of any intimate image without the consent of the individuals in the photos or videos. An intimate image is any photo or video of a person who is nude or exposing their genitals/breasts or engaging in sexual activity.
 
Non-consensual distribution of porn usually happens as a result of hacking or an angry ex trying to hurt you.
 
I THINK IT’S BEST THAT WE BREAK UP.YOU ARE REALLY GONNATREAT ME LIKE THIS?
I’LL SEND UR NUDES TOEVERYONE SO THE WORLDCAN SEE U FOR WHAT UREALLY ARE.

Has someone shared a private intimate video/picture of you?

The first instinct is to freak out because you are not sure what to do. One of your biggest worries is probably that you don’t want family or friends seeing it and especially not employers. Well take a deep breath because you’re not the first person this has happened to, so we’re here to help!

How do I get the pictures taken down?

Your first priority is probably to get the photos taken down. If the images have been posted to a social media platform they can be removed by contacting the platform whether it be Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or most other social media. If it’s been posted to a porn website, they’re required to take it down if the individual in the video or picture does not consent to its distribution and use. Things get tricky when the videos or pictures are posted to websites designated for revenge porn, where it’s much harder to get them removed. However, don’t be discouraged, because there are other options. To access revenge porn websites, people must search through search engines such as Google. Most search engines, like Google, has a personal information policy that if a complaint is filed, they will remove the links to certain pages that contain non-consensual porn. Therefore, the images cannot be searched through the search engine making them harder to come across, even though they can continue to exist on those pages. However, before you do all this, you will want proof that the images were posted without your consent and information regarding who posted them, so take screenshots. Even though your main priority is to get the images removed you may, later on, want to take legal action against the individual.
 
The task of removing these private images can be overwhelming and seem daunting. However, this website provides a step-by-step instruction guide to remove photos from just about any platform:

I want to take legal action.

Once the images are removed, you may want to look into legal action. It’s a crime to post an intimate picture of individuals without consent, however, holding the person criminally accountable won’t change the harm done to you and your reputation. In that case, civil lawsuits can be more beneficial in bringing justice for victims of revenge porn. Although a minimally explored area in law, due to the newness of the internet, in recent years laws, have been created and adapted to better serve victims of non-consensual distribution of porn.

Previously in cases regarding the non-consensual distribution of porn, victims have sued for copyright infringement. This usually applies when the photos were taken by the victim themselves, most commonly known as selfies. Therefore, they have ownership of that image. If the image of them is shared without their consent, they can sue for copyright infringement which can range from $100 to $20,000 for every time the photo is used without consent. Furthermore, since the victim owns the copyright, internet companies are required to obey the Copyright Act, and therefore must deny service to access any website that infringes on copyright law. This makes the images harder to access. You can also sue for defamation, which is when someone spreads inaccurate information about your character. This type of lawsuit is popular especially in revenge porn cases since there are usually captions to the images that are damaging to an individual’s reputation. A lawsuit can also be filed for intentional infliction of mental suffering caused by the non-consensual distribution. Civil law has many avenues to pursue a lawsuit regarding non-consensual distribution of intimate photos ensuring justice for the victim.

Another legal aspect that victims of non-consensual distribution of pornography face, especially if it goes viral, is loss of employment. Although it’s not your fault, it’s possible to be fired from your job due to the release of intimate photos. Some job contracts have a morality clause that could be used as justification for firing you as the result of the leaked intimate images. However, it’s possible that the employer did not apply the morality clause correctly, and doesn’t have legal grounds to fire you. Therefore, if you have been fired because of the non-consensual distribution of intimate photos, it’s possible that your employer is in the wrong, so you should consult with a legal expert who can help evaluate your rights.

How am I protected in legal proceedings?

Many victims fear that pursuing legal action risks creating a bigger spotlight on the issue. However, courts acknowledge the sensitivity of the matter, and often in the case of non-consensual porn allow the legal name of the individuals to not be used in the proceedings. Similarly, courts may allow publication bans to keep the hearings private.

What remedies are provided through legal action?

Although it’s quite easy to get the images removed from social media, it’s possible that the individual still has the images in their possession. In a civil lawsuit, the court can order to destroy the images to guarantee that the photos or videos will not be shared again. It’s also possible that the images were not removed from the platform they were shared to. Therefore, a court can order the removal of the images. On top of guaranteeing that your private images are no longer in the hands of those who don’t have permission, money can be awarded as compensation for the damages already caused. General damages can be awarded and, in the past, have been as high as $50,000 for non-consensual distribution of intimate images. Money can also be awarded for special damages. These damages would compensate you for quantifiable monetary losses, such as, for instance, if you incurred moving expenses as a result of having to move to a different location due to the release of contact info. Compensation can also be provided for past and future medical care, such as counselling and medical treatment required for the psychological distress caused by the distribution of the images.
 
Furthermore, the extra money can be awarded as punishment for the conduct of the offender. The courts acknowledge that no amount of money can reverse the harm done, but at least it can help get you back on your feet. Law is always adapting to keep up with the new technology and the new challenges that arise from its widespread use. If you have been a victim of non-consensual distribution of porn contact Equilibrium Law with legal experts that can work with you to obtain justice.

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