Tag Archives: Revenge Porn

Arizona Revenge Porn Bill Aims High, Deemed Flaccid by Law Expert

Let's talk about the ins-and-outs of revenge porn legalities.
Let’s talk about the ins-and-outs of revenge porn legalities.

In an attempt to quell revenge porn, The Arizona legislator has proposed a new law — House Bill 2515. The bipartisan bill aims to make illegal to “knowingly disclose, display, distribute, publish, advertise, or offer a photograph, videotape, film or digital recording or other reproduction of another person in a state of nudity or engaged in a sexual act without obtaining the written consent of the depicted person.”

Most people can agree that so-called revenge porn is an odious plague. As such, attempts to legally curtail the pastime – like Arizona’s HB 2515 – seem like a great idea. Moreover, since professional pornographers are required to keep proof of age and consent forms, people often wonder: “Why not make consent mandatory for all media involving nudity or sex acts?” Seems logical, right?

Maybe not.

Law professor Derek Bambauer points out a huge flaw in the proposal, citing the First Amendment. The bill does not make any provisions for videos, images or gifs that are newsworthy or of public interest. He points that anyone possessing media showing a politician engaging in an illicit sex act would be perfectly within their rights to distribute the material as newsworthy and an issue for public concern.

Bambauer does offer up a solution along with his criticism. He is a proponent of expanding copyright law to include so-called ‘intimate media,’ just as the state of California has already done. Doing so, he postulates, would simultaneously encourage the creation of intimate media by consenting adults and punish those who distribute it non-consensually.

Revenge Porn Lawyer

Revenge porn is serious. It has the power to ruin a person’s reputation. If you’re dealing with a revenge porn issue and want to explore your legal options, get in touch today. Our firm has handled many online harassment, defamation and revenge porn cases – and our track record is stellar.

Reach out today to begin the conversation.

Revenge Porn Legal Primer: Laws & Legalities

Let's talk about the ins-and-outs of revenge porn legalities.
Let’s talk about the ins-and-outs of revenge porn legalities.

Welcome to the world of revenge porn – where scorned ex-lovers (and general jerks) publicly “sl*t shame” former paramours by posting prurient pictures online. To add opportunity to injury, a profitable revenge porn website industry has emerged. Not only do sites provide a platform for the offending material, but  they also charge revenge porn victims a hefty sum to remove media (think $5,000 in some cases). The worst part: paying the fee doesn’t guarantee it won’t pop up elsewhere once its removed from one site.

And believe it or not, revenge porn is perfectly legal in most jurisdictions. That said, victims are coming up with novel and effective ways to sue in civil court using various DMCA, defamation and false light invasion of privacy laws. Still, no nationwide law exists to combat revenge porn on a federal level. States, like Florida, have tried to pass revenge porn laws, but ultimately failed due to free speech concerns. However, some states are still trying to craft revenge porn laws that will protect peoples’ privacy without stomping on free speech toes.

State Revenge Porn Laws

Revenge porn reformers are largely seeking laws on the state level. Why? Because when it comes to Internet laws, the federal government is shockingly slow. Take, for example, federal politicians’ inability to pass a universal online privacy law – politicians have been trying for 15 years and have yet to get something passed.

California’s Ban on Revenge Porn

In October 2013, California became the second state to enact legislation banning revenge porn. The law specifically prohibits people from posting nude photos and videos of another person without their consent. Intent to cause distress or psychological harm must also be present to win a claim. Violating the new law is a misdemeanor that carries a penalty of $1,000 and up to six months in jail.

Maryland’s Anti-Revenge Porn Bill Proposition

In Maryland, state representative Jon Cardin introduced a revenge porn bill. Cardin cited a study in which 50 percent of respondents said they had sent nude or sexually explicit photos or videos of themselves to someone they knew. About 10 percent of those surveyed had received a threat from a former romantic partner to distribute the images publicly. Under Cardin’s law, if passed, distributing revenge porn would be a felony in Maryland punishable by a $25,000 fine and up to five years in prison.

New York’s Anti-Revenge Porn Law Proposal

New York is also in the process of drafting a revenge porn bill. The punishment for posting or distributing sexually explicit images of someone without their consent would be a fine of up to $30,000. It would also be considered a class A misdemeanor. However, the representatives sponsoring the bill, Joe Griffo and Phil Boyle, specifically want to expand the law to criminalize the distribution of images that were taken by the person in the photos or videos. This is a departure from California’s law, which only punishes people who distribute photos or videos they took themselves.

Shortcomings of Revenge Porn Laws

The American Civil Liberties Union originally opposed the California revenge porn law, not because the organization condones the practice, but because it has concerns that the law unintentionally chills free speech. When lawmakers narrowed the scope of the bill, however, the ACLU withdrew its objection. Under the new version, intent is a test element, and actions must have a verifiable adverse effect on the victim in order for a conviction.

Although passing the law was a positive step, some critics are concerned it doesn’t go far enough in securing justice for revenge porn victims. Why? Because establishing the intent to harm is difficult, and victims who wish to press charges may be required to submit psychiatric records to prove “emotional distress” – the act of which is arguably another invasion of privacy.

The California law only punishes people who distribute photos they, themselves, took of a person. While passing the law could help many people seek justice, the reality is that 80 percent of revenge porn cases involve media that the person in the images took themselves. So under California’s new law, these people still have no legal recourse.

Revenge porn is a fairly new phenomenon that encapsulates the theoretical difficulties associated with online privacy laws. Basically, if they want revenge porn laws, legislators will have to find a way that doesn’t encroach on free speech rights.

The New Tennessee Internet Law In 60 Seconds

Tennessee Internet LawThe 11 Things You Need To Know About The Tennessee Internet Law Regarding “Emotional Distress”

  1. The new Tennessee Internet law makes it illegal to cause “emotional distress” by posting images online.
  2. The new law, which comes into effect on July 1, 2011, will make a criminal out of anyone who:“Communicates with another person or transmits or displays an image in a manner in which there is a reasonable expectation that the image will be viewed by the victim by any method described in subdivision (a)(1), without legitimate purpose.” In other words: cyberbullying, cyber harassment and revenge porn are illegal in TN now.
  3. The transfer methods include telephone, writing, or electronic communication, including text messaging, fax messages, e-mail, and Internet service.
  4. The communication or display of an image can trigger the offense if done: “In a manner the defendant knows, or reasonably should know, would frighten, intimidate or cause emotional distress to a similarly situated person of reasonable sensibilities.” And “As the result of the communication, the person is frightened, intimidated or emotionally distressed.”
  5. Interestingly, the “communicates with another person” provision already existed. The new Tennessee Internet law simply makes publishing pictures that disturb people an offense.
  6. Markedly absent from the law is a clear definition of “legitimate purpose.” This oversight needs to be rectified ASAP, as it leaves too much room for personal interpretation.
  7. This Tennessee Internet law seems to be unconstitutional on its face, as it effectively bans all forms of controversial printed or broadcast material. It places the onus on the speaker to establish their “legitimate purpose.”
  8. Threats are already illegal in Tennessee. What this new Tennessee Internet law does is ban all speech that offends, no matter how lawful it is, so long as a judge decides it lacks a “legitimate purpose.”
  9. Tennesseans may wish to take up residence in a jurisdiction with a greater respect for freedom of speech, such as North Korea, Iran or Inquisition-era Spain.
  10. Bottom Line: As a result of this new Tennessee Internet Law, be cautious about what you post online whenever there is a nexus to Tennessee.
  11. The law goes into effect July 1, 2011. It may be cited as T.C.A. § 39-17-308.
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