In the Fight Against Non-Consentual Porn, Court Does the Right Thing

So many times it seems like victims get re-victimized by the court system. Here is one case where the court did the right thing, so I think that alone makes it worth highlighting.

Going back to 2013, young women responded to ads for clothed modelling, but when they showed up they were told that they would be paid between $3,000 and $5,000 for anonymized adult video shoots and pressured into doing it. They were told that the videos would not be put online, that they would not be available in the United States, that no one who knew them would ever see the videos and that their participation would be concealed (note: I am not sure how you do that with porn).

These videos were, in fact, posted to the Internet and the company being sued actually had deals to share clips of the videos with other adult sites as a way to entice customers to buy subscriptions.

In fact, there were numerous cases where college kids found the videos and shared them across campus, causing the women significant embarrassment and distress.

The ringleader, Michael James Pratt, is now a fugitive and the FBI is offering a reward of $50,000 for information leading to his arrest. He will slip up sooner or later.

But that is not the part where the court is doing the right thing. That part is still ongoing.

US District Court Judge Janis Sammartino issued an order that allows the women to get some semblance of control back. When the women found their videos online the offending web sites refused to take the videos down, saying the women signed model releases so they don’t own the videos or photos. Here is what Judge Sammartino did:

– Garcia, aka “Jonathan,” has no right to use, publish, or otherwise exploit GirlsDoPorn (GDP) or GirlsDoToys (GDT) images, likenesses, or videos;

– All purported model releases and other agreements between GDP and/or GDT and its models purporting to give GDP and/or GDT the right to use, publish, or otherwise exploit its models’ images, likenesses, or videos are void and unenforceable;

– All transfers, licenses, or leases of the right to use, publish, or otherwise exploit the models’ images, likenesses, or videos by GDP and/or GDT to any third parties are void;

– Each model holds superior right, title, and interest in the images, likenesses, and videos depicting that model produced by GDP and/or GDT; and

– Each model shall have and recover all property that GDP and/or GDT took from them, including images, likenesses, videos, and copyrights.

What this means is that the models now own the videos and photos and can enforce copyright and other laws against websites that don’t cooperate and take the content down.

That club is pretty significant.

Willful, commercial, violation of copyright laws can bring a fine of 250,000 per violation. 10 pictures means that a site could be fined $2.5 million, for example.

In addition, laws like the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DCMA) require websites to take down content if the content owner notifies them that the posting is not authorized. After the content is down the site can go to court and show that they have the right (which in this case they don’t) and if the judge agrees, they can put the content back up. Violations of the DCMA can have penalties of 5 years in prison and a $500,000 fine, per offense. While some websites in a country without an extradition treaty might ignore that, all mainstream sites will comply. Their officers do not want to spend 5 years as a guest of Uncle Sam.

While the case against the defendants continues, this order alone helps level the playing field for these young women who were clearly taken advantage of by these con men, led by Pratt.

Credit: DoJ and ZDNet

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