Don’t Become a Victim of Revenge Porn

By Regan Joswiak*

Photo from mirror.co.uk

Photo from mirror.co.uk

Revenge porn—sexual photos that are posted online without the subject’s consent—is becoming more prevalent on the internet.

Unfortunately, many are victims of this. In most cases, these pictures are posted by former lovers who kept nude or sexual pictures of their partner after the relationship ended. These photos are then submitted to websites that make them viewable to the public, often along with the victim’s name, city and state, and links to social media accounts.

This humiliating and vindictive practice has affected the lives of both women and men. While women are usually the target for this, men can also be targeted, as seen here. The victim’s personal life and job (or potential job) can be greatly impacted. And the websites that have these photos, like mugshot sites, often charge victims a fee in exchange for having their photos taken down. Also like mugshots, having one site removing the photos does not guarantee that the photos will not appear on others.

Are these websites illegal? In Texas, there are not currently any laws that make the posting of revenge porn a crime. John S. Morgan, an attorney from Beaumont, states that he plans to draft a bill in hopes of changing this.

However, in some cases, copyright law can be taken into account. If the photo is a self-portrait, then the victim owns the copyright to that photo without registering it.  Under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, the subject may then send takedown notices to the website’s operator. This being said, many of these websites have moved to hosts overseas in order to avoid legal consequences in the U.S.

UPDATE: On February 14th, 2014, one woman was awarded $500,000 in a revenge porn lawsuit for “intentional infliction of emotional distress,” a case that is hard to win because damages are difficult to prove. For the full story, read this article.

To protect yourself from becoming a victim of revenge porn, keep these things in mind:

  • Don’t send or allow photos to be sent to others, but if you do, be careful who you trust with your photos and know that once they are sent to another person’s phone they may use them whenever they wish.
  • Even Snapchat isn’t necessarily safe. Someone can screenshot the image before it is erased. While Snapchat notifies the sender of the image that someone did this, this does not prevent it from happening.

If you have any further questions, contact Student Legal & Mediation Services at (936) 294-1717 or e-mail at slms@shsu.edu.

SLMS—Pointing Bearkats in the Right Direction.

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s