I previously wrote about a copyright action filed in Texas against Yahoo!, Google, and involuntary (or “revenge”) porn site MyEx.com. After some brief and unenlightening motion practice, the plaintiff dismissed Yahoo! and settled with Google after the latter agreed to remove the plaintiff’s photos from its search results. It’s unclear whether Yahoo! settled the claim, and there is no indication that there was a monetary component to the settlement(s).
The case against Yahoo! and Google was, as Google argued, likely foreclosed by Perfect 10, Inc. v. Amazon.com, which found that Google’s use of thumbnails of nude models when returning search results was a fair use. Perhaps a Texas court sympathetic to the facts of this case — where the plaintiff wasn’t a voluntary model — would have declined to follow the Ninth Circuit’s holding in Perfect 10, but that’s doubtful. But as seen with Garcia, a sympathetic plaintiff can cause courts to do weird things. The plaintiff had also alleged an invasion of privacy claim against the search engines, but that tort claim is pretty clearly avoided by virtue of Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act.
The case against MyEx was voluntarily dismissed with prejudice, meaning the plaintiff can’t re-assert them later. Previous filings by plaintiff’s counsel indicated that the site had not been served in the action, and never appeared.
I’m disappointed that the action didn’t continue against MyEx.com, which is by far the largest involuntary porn site in the world, and has likely posted the photos of more victims than any other site ever — perhaps all of them combined. Perhaps worse, it appears to be the first revenge porn site to have become a profitable venture, and is backed by professionals with substantial experience in the adult industry.
MyEx is also likely susceptible to copyright claims, among other claims, for reasons I won’t elaborate on here. Of course, there are tricky issues regarding the site’s potential liability, and it can be prohibitively expensive to pursue claims when the site’s operators are overseas and have gone to great lengths to camouflage their operations. For example, the site claims to be operated by a company in the Netherlands. That company does not exist.
Perhaps another plaintiff will step forward.