In the wake of a Florida bill to criminalize revenge porn (which died after failing to receive a final vote before the Florida legislative session ended), a California state senator has introduced Senate Bill 255. SB255, as introduced by Sen. Anthony Canella (R-Ceres) would make it a misdemeanor to engage in a wide variety of acts associated with “revenge porn” — the practice of sharing nude photos of someone in order to sate a fleeting desire for revenge.
While I largely agree with Eugene Volokh (UCLA law professor and renowned First Amendment scholar) that revenge porn is not likely protected by the First Amendment (and I take great pride in shaming revenge pornographers), any legislative attempt to provide legal remedies for revenge porn victims must be narrowly drawn in order to be effective. If a bill is drafted in a manner that reaches too much protected speech, a revenge porn defendant might successfully escape prosecution by challenging the statute on overbredth grounds.
While the bill is in its earliest stages and can hopefully be amended, SB255 as drafted goes too far, criminalizing even linking to a revenge porn post.
Read more «California Senate to Consider Bill Criminalizing Revenge Porn»” class=”more-link”>Read more «California Senate to Consider Bill Criminalizing Revenge Porn»
Revenge porn site YouGotPosted (also known as “ugotposted”) has been sued in the Federal District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan. The complaint is here (hat-tip: Bullyville).
Notably, this is the first lawsuit targeting a revenge porn site that focuses on copyright. I think intellectual property claims present the best chance victims of revenge porn sites have in prevailing in civil cases against site owners.
While sites even as despicable as YouGotPosted might have a CDA Section 230 defense against tort claims (although I think that’s debatable), CDA 230 expressly exempts intellectual property rights claims (like copyright) from its protection against liability. That is, although under CDA 230 many sites have immunity from liability for tortuous content submitted by users, they don’t have immunity when it comes to copyright and trademark claims. Rather, they can attempt to argue that they are exempt from copyright liability by way of the DMCA’s safe harbor, but they’re screwed on this front, having not registered an agent to receive DMCA takedown notices (among other failings).
While this will be a case to watch, I doubt that the main operators of the site (Eric Chanson and Kevin Bollaert) will respond. They failed to respond (at least in court) to the trademark lawsuit filed against them by Bullyville/ViaView, and a default judgment in excess of $300,000 was issued against them. Chanson’s parents, however, are now asking the court in the Bullyville case to set aside the judgment, claiming they weren’t properly served and had no idea about the lawsuit until recently. (They also claim that they had no idea about their son’s revenge porn site until Bullyville offered to pay Eric and Kevin to shut down their site).
Though Chanson and Bollaert’s scumbaggery is well-established by virtue of their running a revenge porn site, I’m surprised this lawsuit made no mention of the extortionate “ChangeYourReputation” scam. The only way their site makes a profit (its advertising affiliate jumped ship following a tip from yours-truly — oops!) is by charging victims to have their pictures removed. That idea was ripped off of the “Takedown Hammer” scheme operated by Craig Brittain (and probably Chance Trahan) of “ObamaNudes.”
And this suit is probably a preview of what’s to come for Craig Brittain and Chance Trahan — who are more likely to fight any claims against them. (I’m not saying they’ll fight well — but they’ll fight.)
This will be a quick post, but in my ongoing research into revenge porn and online extortion, I stumbled across (h/t Mandy Nagy) this press release and recently-unsealed complaint in the Eastern District of Michigan. It alleges, essentially, that a New York man — Adam Paul Savader — used a variety of Google Voice numbers to text women under the monicker “John Smith.” ”Smith” told the women that he had nude photos of them (or, in one victim’s case, her mother) and that he would post more online if they did not send more nude photos. He allegedly threatened to send the photos to their family members, sorority sisters, and the Republican National Committee, telling one that everyone in “D.C” would see the nude photos. The unidentified victims apparently attended the same college as Savader.
On Twitter, Adam Savader brags that he was “Formerly @PRyan’s sole intern on @MittRomney’s campaign and a @newtgingrich campaign staffer” and notes that his website is savader.com. The whois registration for the site lists his abode as being the same Great Neck, NY address as the address affiliated with the IP address used to register many of the online accounts allegedly used in the sextortion plot.
Savader is charged with internet extortion in violation of 18 USC 875(d) and cyberstalking in violation of 18 USC 2261A(2). While no money was apparently demanded of the victims, at least one court of Appeals has held (PDF) that demanding even intangibles can constitute a “thing of value” for purposes of the internet extortion statute.
It should go without saying that, if true, this kind of behavior is contemptuous, regardless of partisan affiliation. There are creeps on every side of the aisle.
(h/t Mandy Nagy)
While much focus has been on IsAnybodyDown (now known as “ObamaNudes”) and the antics of truth-challenged Craig Brittain, the largest revenge porn site is YouGotPosted (aka “ugotposted”). This lowly blog receives far more visitors searching for YouGotPosted than for any other revenge porn site, and far more victims of that site contact me than victims of Craig Brittain.
YouGotPosted’s ride, however, is about to come to a crashing halt, as the result of a lawsuit filed by ViaView (parent company of Bullyville). The site’s remaining operators – Eric Chanson, Kevin Bollaert, Chanson’s parents (Roy and Amy Chanson), and “Blue Mist Media LLC“ – have been held in contempt by a Federal court in Nevada. Additionally, the court determined that their violations of court orders merit terminating the case in Bullyville’s favor and requiring payment of Bullyville’s legal fees.
More on the case after the jump.
Read more «Revenge Porn: YouGotPosted Held in Contempt, Loses Case to Bullyville»” class=”more-link”>Read more «Revenge Porn: YouGotPosted Held in Contempt, Loses Case to Bullyville»
Revenge kingpin Hunter Moore, a self-proclaimed “millionaire,” has been hit by two default judgments after failing to defend himself in two lawsuits against him.
The first involves Storage Wars celebrity Brandi Passante, who sued Moore for posting a video that Moore asserted was a sex tape of Passante. Her complaint (PDF), filed in the Federal District Court in Los Angeles, asserted causes of action for trademark infringement, privacy torts, defamation, and consumer fraud, alleging that Moore’s video was false and designed to trade upon her commercial likeness. Passante also sought and received a preliminary injunction requiring Moore to remove the video.
Moore’s response to the suit and injunction was to send Passante’s lawyer a picture of his penis (NSFW, obviously) in lieu of hiring a lawyer to defend his considerable ‘ass’ets. This well-considered legal strategy went predictably: Passante convinced the judge to hold Moore in contempt for disobeying the injunction. Moore, faced with the prospect of being haled into California accompanied by U.S. Marshals armed with a bench warrant, quietly removed the video from his website.
Moore has since remained quiet publicly about the suit. While a clerk’s entry of default has been entered against him in the case, Passante’s lawyer has informed the court that settlement negotiations are ongoing. Negotiating with a plaintiff while you’re in default is an ideal bargaining position. Bravo, Mr. Moore.
The second case is more interesting.
Read more «Hunter Moore’s ‘Fortunes’ Threatened by Self-Imposed Legal Misfortunes»” class=”more-link”>Read more «Hunter Moore’s ‘Fortunes’ Threatened by Self-Imposed Legal Misfortunes»
Prenda Law, currently in a death spiral with an unplanned stop in Los Angeles this afternoon, may have violated the same rule that caused a Federal judge in Nevada to benchslap copyright troll Righthaven. And that can likely be established before Prenda’s involuntary appointment with Judge Wright .
Read more «Prenda Law Steps on FRCP 7.1 Landmine»” class=”more-link”>Read more «Prenda Law Steps on FRCP 7.1 Landmine»
If you’ve been following the ongoing saga of revenge porn site IsAnybodyDown.com, you might recall that I’ve alleged that the site’s operator, Craig Brittain of Colorado Springs, was likely getting photos for his site by responding to Craigslist personals ads. I theorized this on the basis that most of the posts on IsAnybodyDown are tagged ‘craigslist’ and from screenshots posted by Brittain.
And now there’s proof.
Read more «IsAnybodyDown: The Fake Identities of Craig Brittain, aka “Jess Davis” and “David Blade”»” class=”more-link”>Read more «IsAnybodyDown: The Fake Identities of Craig Brittain, aka “Jess Davis” and “David Blade”»
In Januay, a number of Texas women filed a class action lawsuit (press release and amended complaint here) against revenge porn site Texxan.com (also known as Texxxans.com). The lawsuit spiked media interest in the “revenge porn” underworld, and the operator of Texxxan made several appearances to defend his venture, always careful to shield his identity with anonymous proxies, voice modulators, and adopting the pseudonym “James Smith.”
The site, after repeatedly ‘polling’ its visitors as to whether it should stay online and receiving ‘positive’ results, abruptly shut down on January 28. Visitors were greeted with a default “pageok” message from the Godaddy-hosted site with no explanation as to why a site supposedly so popular with its visitors would simply disappear. ”James Smith” chalked up the closure as the result of the “lease” on the site expiring.
The site’s closure, however, had little to do with a “lease” expiring and more to do with GoDaddy shutting the site down for violating its Terms of Service becuse the site was registered under a false name. Perhaps it also had to do with investigators closing in on the man apparently behind the site.
And his mother.
Read more «Meet Hunter Taylor, The Man Reportedly Behind Revenge Porn Site Texxxan»” class=”more-link”>Read more «Meet Hunter Taylor, The Man Reportedly Behind Revenge Porn Site Texxxan»