If you’re not yet familiar with IsAnybodyDown.com (NSFW), here’s a synopsis of the controversy surrounding it:
Involuntary porn: IsAnybodyDown.com is an “involuntary porn” or “revenge porn” site, posting nude photos, names, phone numbers, hometowns, and Facebook profiles of over 700 people. The photos are posted without consent and are purportedly submitted by jealous ex-lovers, but may be culled by the site from deceived Craigslist users. The site, hosted in Romania, claims immunity from U.S. copyright law and posted emails mocking those asking to have photos removed. Its owners view the site as a “weapon.”
But IsAnybodyDown.com’s creators are American. The site was started by Craig Brittain of Colorado Springs (now living in Phoenix) and Chance Trahan of Tempe, Arizona, though Chance denies that he “runs” the site, insisting that he is only a freelance artist.
Enter attorney David Blade: People understandably desperate to have photos removed turned to attorney “David Blade III”, who advertised on IsAnybodyDown and on his own site, TakedownLawyer.com, offering to negotiate with his old college friend Craig Brittain to have pictures removed for $250. Blade boasts of removing photos of 90 people from the site.
Attorney David Blade turns out to be fake: “David Blade” does not exist. “David Blade” is purportedly a public defender in New York, but no lawyer by that name is registered with the NY state bar. The “Takedown Lawyer” website was registered and hosted by Craig Brittain, and emails from both “David Blade” and Craig Brittain likely originated from the same computer in Colorado Springs. It appears that Craig Brittain was pretending to be attorney “David Blade”, receiving money to negotiate with himself to remove photos he doesn’t own. Ken White, a former Federal prosecutor, believes this is wire fraud. Craig later claimed that he doesn’t know who “David Blade” is and that a friend made him up.
Enter the real attorneys: Noted First Amendment attorney Marc Randazza uncovered the scam and offered to represent victims of IsAnybodyDown.com for free. Others stepped forward to assist.
Enter the media: NPR’s On the Media interviewed both Marc Randazza and Craig Brittain, and the Colorado Springs Independent interviewed Craig Brittain, leading Craig and Chance to engage extensively in the comments of the post. CBS Denver will air an interview with Craig and victims of the site on Saturday, Jan. 12th. Also: ArsTechnica, the Daily Dot, Above the Law, Lawyerist, Jezebel, Techdirt (twice), and the Italian version of the Huffington Post.
Craig and Chance try to censor their critics: Craig, a self-described “front-line first amendment warrior,” tried (and failed) to use copyright law to censor posts about him at Popehat. Craig attempted to delete criticism of him from Wikipedia and was banned after making legal threats. Chance posted legal threats claiming “slander” and “invasion of privacy” in comments on my blog, Popehat, Wikipedia, Techdirt, Ethics Alarm, and a satirical video. Chance successfully had the satirical video removed, arguing that its use of his photo and name invades his privacy. Chance threatened that this blogger would be “extradited” to Arizona to face a libel suit if he didn’t remove “every last word” about him.
Craig fires back: Craig responded with a “press release” and with Trolldown.com, blaming Obama for his problems and claiming that Randazza, Ken White, and myself were each paid $350,000 by “Big Porn” to take down his site. Craig launched his own personal site to respond to criticism.
Enter Anonymous: #Knightsec, the contingent of hacking group Anonymous that targeted Hunter Moore (progenitor of revenge porn) declared war on the site.
Bullyville Offers a Reward: Anti-bullying site Bullyville.com is offering a $500 reward for proof that IsAnybodyDown.com contains photos of people under the age of 18.
YouGotPosted replicates the scheme: Another involuntary porn site has created a similar dubious front to collect money from its victims: ChangeMyReputation.com.
So what’s next? Things have been moderately quiet for the past few days — publicly, anyway. Stay tuned.